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

Archive for the ‘Fair Winds’


Episode 52 — Five Years in the Making!

In which we discuss how good it is to be back, trips to Ohio to be with family, catching up at work, Sanibel Island get-aways, judgmental spinning, animal husbandry, rivers of birds and finishing a masterpiece!

And though these certainly don’t qualify as full-blown show notes, the registration form for the TwinSet Summer Camp (July 10-12, 2015 in Darlington, MD) is HERE.

Episode 51 — Don’t Call Me Shirley!


In which we discuss things.  And for which there are no outtakes due to an incomplete edit.  I explain the very sad reason why in the introduction.

Episode 50 — turbogal, AKA Lisa

In which we celebrate the milestone that is episode 50, discuss NYC trips, trip ups with deer, podcaster visits and prank calls, Wilson’s continuing mastery of the chess world, precision dancing viewed at Radio City Music Hall with Jenny and light up swizzle sticks (!), pulling it together when your gauge is all over the place and a special outtake for your holiday merriment….oh, and turbogal.

Episode 49 — Full Bellies


In which we discuss filling up our bellies at Thanksgiving, podcast endings and podcaster beginnings, cabbages and kings (well, not kings), fine dining in NYC and nights on the town in DC, visitors and the proper pie ratio, new members of the farm family and a bit of farm animal photography!

Episode 48 — Catch Me Up If You Can


In which we offer condolences to the “Car Talk family”, start a new contest for a Boston Jen design, congratulate Wilson for his “Top 100″ chess status, Marie’s debut in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade*, Gale Woods Farm, Jan’s new job, Buddhist housekeeping, NYC visits to daughter’s restaurants (well, restaurants at which daughters play key roles) knitting retreats that bring healing, new playwrites and playing in parks, Dr. Yarn’s anger management techniques, Spinzilla and designing for flow, and try to catch up on many other aspects of life!

*Update!  Marie will not be a Christmas tree — instead she will be a pirate, a treasure chest or a shark devouring a person as one of the wire walkers for the “Pirate’s Booty” balloon.  She hopes she gets to be a shark!

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

And thanks to BostonJen for sharing her lovely new shawl, Aila Grace, with us, including a free pattern for one of our lucky listeners.  (Note: contest has closed.) Check out Down Cellar Studio, BostonJen’s own podcast for more knitting and other fun.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen remains proud of the MN Senior Chess Champion - her husband - who is now also on the list of top 100 US chess players over age 50!   She’s also proud of her daughter whose photo was featured in a recent review of the NYC restaurant, Dirty French, at which she works.

While her family pursued indoors activities, Ellen stood outside and nearly froze her ears off.  Maybe that’s what happened to the sheepdogs at the Star of the North Sheep Dog trials held at Gale Woods Farm. These were held on a huge pasture with rolling hills - lots of terrain for the dogs and sheep to roam. It was a really windy day and the wind was just blowing the trainers’ voices back at them and the dogs simply couldn’t hear them. By the way, Gale Woods Farm is our local working farm that is also a metro park. It is such a resource for families, and more and more so for fiber artists. Check out their Ravelry group.  They just introduced their new yarn - Farm Rainbow, a worsted weight Finnsheep/Corriedale blend, hand-dyed by our friend Wendy J Johnson.

While Ellen stood in the wind tunnel, Jan drank from the fire hose at her new job.  She reports that she is getting to share lots of new ideas as the university is undergoing lots of change right now - perfect time to make an impact.

The comfort of knitting played a big role while Jan undertook her new job, and as she said goodbye to a dear friend.  She took solace in retreating with Cat Bordhi on San Juan Island, receiving support from all the retreat goers and the nature that surrounded them.

Ellen continues to amaze all with the state of her housekeeping - when a basket of hats and scarves fell on her head from the hall closet, she was forced to clean off the shelf - and then found her Large Swan Bohus Reproduction cap that she missed all last winter. You just don’t know whether something is good or bad while you are going through it. At least that is what we think the Buddha would say.

In between watching dogs and a tiny bit of housework, Ellen had the pleasure of tech editing another pattern from Mari Tobita - this one the Snowdrop Capelet.   This sweet capelet, with cables that run from the hem to the collar, a few bobbles that vine off from the cables, and a nice foldover collar to keep one’s neck warm is being used for a KAL at Blizzard Yarn & Fiber in Vancouver, WA.  The other pattern of Mari’s that Ellen edited back in August, the Kikyo shawlette, has also been published.  It is a shawlette, starting at one point and growing into an assymmetric lace wrap with a sawtooth edge. Both of these patterns are both charted and written out - the best of both worlds.

How do you make a great cherry pie?  The way they do in Door County, Wisconsin, where Ellen & Wilson and friends spent several days eating several versions of said pie -  The best was the last - over 3 pounds of cherries per pie, they said, and I believe them. To make the pie, they line a big bowl with the top crust, put the cherries in, then invert the pie pan (already lined with the bottom crust) on top and then flip the whole thin over after crimping the edges together. The fruit pies stood 2 inches above the rims!

The fun doesn’t stop - Ellen filled another fun with visits from the wild and crazy chess players and then a visit from Karen and Brandon. The latter included an evening at Mixed Blood Theater to see Collossal, a great play by Andrew Hinderaker, a promising young playwright who also happens to be a good friend of Brandon’s. And Karen finished up the weekend playing with Frances, the Folding Golding. She is a natural - she was worsted spinning a gorgeous yarn immediately, and this only her second session with a spinning wheel. Ellen is very proud.

The most recent weekend saw Ellen and friends Betsy and Alison perusing the wares at the Upper Midwest Fiber Festival. Some of those wares left the festival in our bags, including a knitting sheath which Ellen is inordinately excited about as she believes she will now be such a speed knitter she will be able to finish a Bohus sweater in less than 5 years.

Finely or Finally Knit

Both twins had finished projects - Ellen worked up a pair of Norgie mittens following the recipe from Jan Bilden shared at the Sisu Lost in the Woods retreat. She knit them on size 1.5 needles - 2.50 mm, and used was Kenzie by Skacel (50/25/10/10/5 merino/nylon/alpaca/angora/silk and Strikkegarn from Rauma, a harder 100% wool yarn.

Jan Frogged some items - by which we mean she knit some things out of Frogtree Yarns.

The first, a gorgeous cowl out of Frog Tree Pediboo (80% washable merino and 20% bamboo) in a moebius construction with reversible “Just So” cables from “Versatildes” cable patterns.  She also knit a Mini-Felf out of Frog Tree Ewetopia — to help promote “The Art of Felfs“, Cat Bordhi’s book whose sales go entirely to support cancer research.  


Ellen also finished her Crazy Vanilla Socks out of Schoppelwolle Crazy Zauberball sock yarn, worked on size 0 needles in a plain stockinette stitch and a Cat Bordhi Sweet Tomato Heel (not to mention the tubular cast on).

On the Runway

Jan has many projects on the needles, but these are the ones that got attention:

  • socks in an interesting rib pattern in a Navy blue and gold colorway
  • mittens in Dream in Color Smooshy leftovers,
  • a Prickly Pear scarf out of Berocco Folio (85% alpaca, 15% rayon) to get a yardage count in a single yarn,
  • a sparkly stole for an upcoming formal event — Stream Bed Lace Shoulder Stole out of Art Yarns Mohair Splash Beaded 74% Mohair and 26% Silk — a midnight blue, 
  • and most knit of all — a Versatilde vest in Frog Tree Ewetopia, one of the medium length vests with the substitution of a modefied Donegal cable pattern for the river. 

Even with all those projects, Ellen was still unable to find project pages for any of them.  Sigh.

Ellen was a little more focused, making progress on her  Shirley Paden Design-along 4  Fair Isle design, a cropped length, truncated front sweater out of Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift.  Because it is a bit like a bolero yet done in Fair Isle with steeks, she is calling it Scotch Tango. She is also working on a new sock design for Modeknit Yarns out of ModeSock.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Most of Ellen’s mishaps were nibbles, but nibbles in Fair Isle lead to some pretty detailed reworking.  Jan had to really frog - about 25 rows of cables that got misaligned while knitting in a dark airplane cabin.

Ready to Wear:

Ellen introduced the Paving Cowl, partner to her Tunisian crochet-in-the-round Paving Mitts.  Patterns for both are available on Ravelry at $3 each or $5 for the set.

Jan’s Prickly Pear pattern that she designed for the Yarn Barn in San Antonia for their 2014 Hill Country Yarn Crawl received rave reviews from the yarn crawlers.  She’s finishing up the formal pattern and getting feedback from test knitters, so we should see it in 2015!

Design Principles

Ellen discusses how she aligned the Fair Isle patterns on her DAL4 sweater so they would flow over the shoulder without a mismatch at the seam.  She used careful planning and a well placed side panel to allow some flexibility in placement.  Jan reflected on a similar process for her Tilde vest - placing the cables and angling them for effect, not just letting them fall where they may.

Design Aesthetic

Both twins appreciate the new Cat Bordhi book, Versatildes - a New Landscape for Knitters. As true for so many of Cat’s books, this one inspires knitters to create their own designs, but also provides plenty of guidance and even specific patterns along the way.  Highly recommended.

5 Minute Interview

Dr. Yarn shares his tips on using knitting as an anger management tool.

360 Degrees

Ellen has finished the Spinning Bunny BFL in the Sled Dog colorway!  The singles were all spun on spindles and the plying was done on Frances.  She estimates something like 1350 yards of DK weight 2-ply.  That is a lot of spindling!

Jan turned in over a mile of yarn in her maiden entry in Spinzilla.  She spun two skeins — the beautiful tonal sky blue batt that she bought from Desigknit at TwinSet Summer camp, merino — and a polwarth silk blend from Port Fiber in Maine in the Serengeti colorway — burnt orange, golden sand, sage greens and other colors of the savannah.

Embellishments

Ellen’s - state parks, in particular Peninsula State Park in Wisconsin.

Jan’s - Pool noodles.  Listen to the episode if you are curious.

Fun Fur

Jan’s - Pool noodles again.  Listen to the episode if you are curious.Slick Trick

When transferring the spun yarn from bobbin to niddy-noddy, stand clear across the room and keep tension on the yarn as you wind it. This allows the twist to even out across the stretch of yarn that was held taut - to get twist to travel, you do need to put tension on the yarn, and the longer you can stretch the yarn from bobbin to your hands as you wind the niddy noddy, the more you can create an even twist.

You may already be a Wiener!

The oldest finished project in the Cleaning off the Needles KAL was annarch’s Clapotis - started in 2006!  And the winner of Mystic Shawls was Heather01851.  Congrats!

Fashion Forecast

Lots of personal stuff - but as for knitting, keep your own calendar clear for TwinSet Summer Camp 2015 - July 10-12 in Darlington, MD.

Enjoy the show!

Episode 47 — Melancholy Bunny


In which much is out of date, but still interesting…to me anyway.  And probably Ellen.  Hopefully to you.  Sorry!

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

We kick off this episode with acknowledgement that by the time it was posted, it was out of date.  Consider it a history lesson and enjoy.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen is proud of a the MN Senior Chess Champion - her husband!   That was about all she had for Patterns of our Lives, but Jan had plenty.

Dale and Jan got away to Virginia Beach for a mini-break before Jan started her new job.  They rented a very nice suite in a nice hotel - and then invited a bunch of friends to join them.  I don’t think they really understand the concept of an intimate weekend away, but hey, whatever floats their boat.  Rumor has it that Fisherman’s Platters were eaten.

Returning from the beach, Jan headed north to the Knitting Pipeline retreat, chauffeuring two VIP’s, Louise of Caithness Craft Collective and Zelia, her mum.  Of course, when you are traveling with Jan, you fit time in to tour Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and visit an alpaca farm (Jan’s).  I think there was some knitting in there, too.  The retreat sounds like it was a blast, lots of yarn, lots of food, lots of talk and fun and learning courtesy of fellow retreat-goers and also Susan B Anderson, artist-in-residence for the retreat.  If you want to check it out, check out #KPMaine on Instagram.  You will be able to follow the story of Sylvia and Flavio Sylvio.

Jan followed the retreat with a full week of naval conferencing and finishing up the Prickly Pear pattern that she designed for the Yarn Barn in San Antonia for their 2014 Hill Country Yarn Crawl.  She is not resting at all before starting her new job - which is Chancellor of one of the 5 colleges that comprise the National Defense University.

Ellen had some yarn fun this month, too.  Part of that was her autumn pilgrimage to the Sisu Lost in the Woods Knitting Retreat on Burntside Lake just outside of Ely, MN.  The project for the retreat was Norwegian mittens, guided by Jan Bilden. Many colorful mittens got their start that weekend.

Ellen got to spend an afternoon with Jim Pietkowicz and Cat Bordhi, following their class at StevenBe.  Ellen noted that valuing brick and mortar LYS’s is important - enjoy those Etsy shops, but don’t forget your local yarn purveyors.

Finely or Finally Knit:

With so much time between recordings, some knitting got done!

Flavio Sylvio, the Portuguese bunny, was one of the projects Jan finished.  He was made of leftovers from Prickly Pear, a hooded scarf that Jan designed (see above).  She used picture lace to suggest prickly pear cacti, perfect for a Texas yarn crawl.  Jan hopes to publish the pattern in the near future.

Jan also knit a pair of mittens for the charity drive associated with the Knitting Pipeline retreat.  Of course, none of these projects actually have project pages on Ravelry, or we’d link to them for your viewing pleasure.

Ellen also finished a few items.  She finished her Wild Apple tam (#wildappleaday on Instagram) which she started in Sweden (so appropriate to knit Bohus patterns in Sweden!) out of merino/angora yarn from Solsilke (no longer available, but Angoragarnet is beginning to supply kits). It still needs blocking, after which you will undoubtedly hear about it again!

She also finished #11 Eyelet Cowl by Cathy Carron out of her handspun, an MCN blend from Rain City Fiber Arts. A super simple eyelet cowl in a cushy handspun yarn - it was a pleasure to knit.

Jan finished her assymetrical socks, too.

On the Runway, Jan reports that Fog Lights (the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson), is making great progress with just bands remaining.  Likewise, Ellen is almost ready to start the bands for her Bohus reproduction (Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design).

Ellen is also working on Norgie mittens - started in the Sisu retreat class taught by Jan Bilden.  Her mittens are out of Kenzie from Skacel, 50%, 25%, 10% angora, 10% alpaca, 5% silk noils for a crimson red, as well as a nice hard Norwegian yarn, Rauma Strikke-garn in deep sky blue.  Jan has knit boot socks out of Kenzie, so it promises to stand up to wear and so isn’t as odd of a pairing with the Rauma.

Ellen got some progress in on her Crazy Vanilla Socks out of Schoppelwolle Crazy Zauberball sock yarn, worked on size 0 needles in a plain stockinette stitch and a Cat Bordhi Sweet Tomato Heel (not to mention the tubular cast on).

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Once again, Ellen learns that you should at least read the pattern before going your own way.  She had to frog the crown of her tam when she discovered that she wasn’t following the prescribed decrease rate.

And once again, Jan learned that you shouldn’t knit lace late at night and while drinking, leading to some frogging in the final knit of Prickly Pear.  And she bit her knitting, clipping the fabric by accident when trying to remove waste yarn.  She also misplaced one of Flavio’s arm during the knitting, the first time she knit her bunny, anyway.

Be sure to check out Cat Bordhi’s new book, Versatildes - a New Landscape for Knitters.   And the new Frog Tree yarn, Llambrosia.  I checked with Jim Petkiewicz of Frog Tree Yarn and the pronunciation is as we suggested - think llama, not lamb.

Ready to Wear:

Jan offered some of her farm wares at the Knitting Pipeline retreat and reports they were well received.  She has replenished her inventories as she received her order from 84 Alpacas has arrived - yarn in various weights, plus roving both pin-drafted and not.  She hopes to be offering it sometime soon.  We are likely to all fight over the 3-ply DK weight out of the cria fleeces.

Design Principles

Ellen received detailed notes and feedback on her  Shirley Paden Design-along 4  Fair Isle design.  Shirley suggests a 3-needle bind off for a stronger shoulder seam, rather than the mock Kitchener seam Ellen had suggested.  She has also suggested some changes to the armhole shaping, so Ellen is giving that some thought.

Jan asks about whether a thumb on a mitten should carry the pattern to match the hand.  Ellen says, it depends.  Really, it needs to be suited to the mitten.

Design Aesthetic

Jan and Ellen review Laura Rickett’s, Beauties from the Far North - Swedish Sami Knitted Mittens, available for $20 on Ravelry.  The book has 8 mittens - and in a flash contest - you have a chance to win a copy of the book.  Check our Ravelry group for a chance to win - we will close the thread when we record the next time (which will be two episodes from this one, as we did record this morning and this episode was posted late last night - somehow that doesn’t seem very fair).  Here is the TwinSet Technical Review(TM) of this book:

1) Good overview for each pattern — CHECK.
2) Written Instructions — Yes - full descriptions of how to knit these, stitches and materials, but charts are used for color.
3) Charted Instructions — See #2.
4) Words of caution/Tips/Tricks — Notes and special techniques are embedded in the pattern.
5) Photography Styling — Very nice. Includes caribou hides and horns.
6) Photography Clarity — Very clear, several shots of each mitten.

This is a super book of super designs for super colorful mittens.  We recommend you take a look, you’ll enjoy both the designs and the history of the Sami culture.

360 Degrees

Ellen described working with an MCN blend from Rain City Fiber Arts.  She spun the singles with a woolen draw, working hard to keep them fat and puffy, and the resulting yarn is nice and puffy.   A fast, fun spin.

She also gave Valor a bath - Valor’s fleece, that is.  He is the Fair Winds Farm ram, and his fleece is gorgeous.  Ellen recommends Synthrapol, available at Dharma Trading Company, for a low-sudsing, highly effective wash.  She trimmed the tips from the fleece, removing the sun bleached ends and thereby making sure that the dark fleece that Valor produces will still be dark when carded and spun.  She also drum-carded a fleece from Rhinebeck from a few years ago - lots of fiber fun and future spinning to come.

Embellishments

Jan is enjoying her Kindle Unlimited investment - for her, it is paying off!  Ellen mentioned an embellishment that Wilson found - a fitness tracker for cats.  They are called KitBits.  (April Fool’s in October!)

Fun Fur

Ellen’s fun fur is reading blogs - and she is going to start reading other’s blogs again and posting to the TwinSet blog, too.

Slick Trick

Diane (knotjusthats on Ravelry) shared the slick trick she learned in a pattern for making an enclosed edge when picking up a button band.  When picking up the band from the front, work a smooth cotton yarn into the loops formed on the back of the band as you pick up the stitches.  Now you have clearly marked the stitches to use when picking up the backing band of fabric.

You may already be a Wiener!

Many winners in our Cleaning off the Needles KAL - but you were all winners, with so many wonderful projects!  Winners and prizes listed below - please be sure and connect with twinsetellen on Ravelry to figure out how to get your prize!  And THANK YOU to our donors, lotsofhermies, DCAlaneknits, Cat Bordhi, and Fair Winds Farm.

Grand Prize (TS summer camp project bag) — cperrine (Cindi) — Toothless
LOH (lotsofhermies) Stitch Markers –Knotjusthats (Diane) — Fuscia Fantasy hat
LOH Stitch markers — AZknitwit — Market Bag
LOH Stitch Markers — Prairiegl (Leah) Plum Tree Slouch
Versatildes — camanoah (Judy) — Sockhead hat
DCAlaneknites pattern donation — Oldest project

Fashion Forecast

Jan will of course start her new job, but also a trip to the NW for a Cat Bordhi knitting retreat.

Ellen actually got a knitting retreat application in on time.  She is planning to attend the Zombie Knitpocalypse next year.

And both twins plan to figure out how to get out episodes a bit more frequently!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 44 — Back At It!!


In which we thank our camp supporters, have a great time chatting about the success that was TwinSet Summer Camp, discuss making play out of work on the Snake River, being surprised by San Antonio yarn shops, shared birthdays and harmonious gifts, taking daughters to birthday dinners, welcoming Heidi back from the trail, various knitting bites (including a real doozy for Ellen and the recurring theme of ignoring pattern instructions), spinning many yards of yarn and using many wheel ratios, inspiration from Abby Franquemont, the Lost Geek Challenge Along and some other stuff.

Yes, it’s a LONG episode — enough for 3 half hour runs or for Louise to clean all the toilets in Mey.

Patterns of Our Lives:

It was wonderful taking a break, and it is wonderful being back.  Before jumping in, a special thanks to the vendors who supported TwinSet Summer Camp.

Straightfork Farm Alpacas - Cathy Moore creates gorgeous yarns from her own alpaca and sheep fleeces, blending in wool and dyeing them to delightful colorways.  You can buy them for yourself at her website.

A Riot of Color - Susan Eiseman Levitan dyes yarns and rovings that are truly, a riot of color.  Visit her Etsy shop!

DesignKnit - Erica Gunn designs, dyes, and more.  Visit her blog to find out when her life will allow her to get back to fulfilling our fiber dreams.

Fair Winds Farm - I’d link to an Etsy store, if one existed.  Jan will be selling yarns, fibers, and alpaca clothing when it does open, and you can bet we’ll let you know about it.

A lovely yarn donation from Barbara of Eggy Johnson Yarns.  At this point I don’t have a link, but if I get one, I’ll let you know.

A cloud of vicuna-alpaca  fiber from Bob at Cloud Hollow Alpaca, compliments of jaxie95, our very own Linda.  I really had to work hard not to hide this.

And a special, special thanks to Modeknit Yarns who provided a ball of either their Modeknit Modewerk or Modesock for every camper, not to mention a beautiful mini-skein set of Modeknit Fingering in the Midwife Speaking colorway as a door prize - gorgeous!  Check  out their other beautiful yarns on their website, Modeknit Yarn.  I can personally vouch for Modesock and for Modewerk - loved knitting both of them.

And thanks to Laura (77threads on Ravelry) who arranged a destash charity drive that benefited the S.D. Ireland Cancer Fund and Community Links International.

TwinSet Summer Camp was a huge hit, even if the audio quality of the play back wasn’t perfect.  It still brought back great memories.  The TwinSet toddlers had a great time, too.  And so did all the Bruce’s.  (Here is the Monty Python skit that was the source of our nicknames.)

Ellen went fly fishing - for work!  She was learning about the geology of the Upper Snake River Basin in Idaho and floating down the river is a great way to do it.  Jan traveled to San Antonio to celebrate the retirement of a friend.  She visited vineyards and then made sure and bought plenty of yarn to pad it in her luggage on the way home.  The yarn came from The Yarn BarnUnravelled, and Yarnivore, where she enjoyed the Wall o’ Cascade 220.

Both twins got amazing birthday gifts from their husbands - Ellen received a Folding Golding spinning wheel, and Jan received the four lambs we discussed last episode.  Ellen then went to New York City to visit her daughter who has moved to a new restaurant, working front of house once it opens.  Since it wasn’t open yet, the family dined for Jenny’s birthday dinner at Kajitsu for a wonderful fine dining experience of vegan Japanese.  Equally delicious were the dumplings at Prosperity Dumplings.

Jan’s daughter-in-law is back off the Appalachian Trail, having finished about half of it this year.  She’ll return and finish the rest in a future season.

Finely or Finally Knit:

Jan finished up her Greek Keys hat out of alpaca - the thanks for the finding of lost keys.  She’s also finished the Shifting Ribs Toque, her own design, out of Wensleydale that she spun some time ago.  Of course, there are no photos of these on Ravelry, so they may be mythical.

Ellen finished her Bloodroot Hat.  She likes the size and shape, but her colorwork design didn’t really make her blood flow.  It will be a great design swatch - for future and better designs.

On the Runway:

Ellen got a lot of sleeve knit on her Bohus reproduction named Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design, but more to come on that in a later segmant.  She got some progress in on her Crazy Vanilla Socks out of Schoppelwolle Crazy Zauberball sock yarn, worked on size 0 needles in a plain stockinette stitch and a Cat Bordhi Sweet Tomato Heel (not to mention the tubular cast on).

Jan is also working some very colorful socks out of Fluormania - wildly neon! And in other wild knitting - stainless steel/merino as a fiber - she is knitting a scarf she is calling Steely Cables.  Can you find a picture (or even a project entry) of it on Ravelry?  I can’t!

Jan will work next on her Death Spiral shawl, she promises.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen tells how she knit most of a sleeve on a 00 needle instead of a US size 0 (1.75 mm vs 2.0, for those playing at home), and it cost her 15,000 stitches, give or take.

Jan’s brain wasn’t playing nicely with math and she wasn’t able to get her decreases right on a hat - until she checked the number of decreases she actually needed.  No 15,000 stitches worth!

Some dirty dishcloths tripped Jan up once or twice.  Again, not to the tune of 15,000 stitches!

In Ready to Wear, Ellen announces the availability of her videos for techniques for the Paving Mitts pattern in Tunisian Crochet.  You can find them on YouTube - Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Design Challenge

The Shirley Paden Design-Along 4 has started.  Jan didn’t get a sketch submitted, and admits that she is relieved.  Ellen sketched her design on the back of a hotel notepad and took an iphone picture of it to get hers in!  You can follow the fun at the Shirley Paden Ravelry Group.  The group has posted swatches - you’ll be amazed at how different people interpret the same design inspiration.

And as part of the Lost Geek Challenge-along, the TwinSet campers learned all about tablet weaving and dyeing, as well as other skills, like using a bead and head pin Looper.

Linda discussed lichen dyeing and sends us to a 44 Clovers for a reference to this simple and gorgeous dye source.

Design Aesthetic

The twins enjoyed Dishcloth Diva Knits On!  available for $14.95 in print or electronically via Ravelry for $9.95, published by Cooperative Press.  Deb Buckingham, The Dishcloth Diva, brings us new patterns and new fibers - using her designs for a throw when worked up in wool.  We note that the wool fiber information could be fact-checked, but that didn’t take away from the great designs. Cooperative Press provided us with the review copy of the book.

360 Degrees

Tour de Fleece spinning went well.  Ellen worked on the Spinning Bunny top in colorway Sled Dog and hit her goal of spinning every day, even if only for a few seconds.  Jan is knocking it out of the park with over 1800 yds of 4-ply alpaca, spun from a spin-drafted roving from Sherri at Morro Fleece Works. She spun enough for Mishka, Julie Weisenberg’s great sweater, which she plans to knit for the Knitmore Girls Spin along, Knit along (SPAKAL).

And to top off Tour de Fleece, we have an interview with Abby Franquemont on the importance of spinning to our cultural and industrial histories.  As Abby says, “one way or another, it’s all about yarn.”

Ellen’s new wheel is called Frances, because she is the “quietest thing in the room”, like Frances the Badger is in the Russell Hoban (illustrations by Garth Williams) classic, Bedtime for Frances.   “Frances stood by Father’s side of the bed very quietly, right near his head.  She was so quiet that she was the quietest thing in the room.  She was so quiet that Father woke up all of a sudden, with his eyes wide open.”

Fiber Jargon

Whorl ratios - which the Folding Golding has in spades.  The whorl ratio is like the gear ratio on a bicycle - a higher ratio means that for one turn of the wheel, the flyer turns more times than for a low ratio.  For instance, an 8:1 ratio means the flyer turns 8 times for one turn of the wheel.

Ellen’s embellishment was radish greens for eatin’!  Just saute’ them in butter (wash them first!).  Jan is searching an embellishment - a drip-free coffee pot.  What is it with coffee pot designers? (note: since this episode aired, listeners solved this one!)

Slick Tricks:

Jan is modifying her afterthought heel slick trick from a few episodes back. She is going to try to knit a shorter waste flap on her afterthought heels and use a dpn to make it taught instead of her fat fingers (Jan’s words).  Thanks, Gigi, for the push to improve this and reduce the amount of waste yarn knitting Jan will be doing.

Ellen’s slick trick is to use a slip knot to attach a leader to the bobbin - then doing a second slip knot in the opposite direction.  This prevent slippage in either direction so you can start spinning either way.  She learned this one from Judith McKenzie.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Just mention on the forum thread which of the new Dishcloth Diva designs you’d like to knit.   Check them out on Ravelry, tell us which one you’d knit first in our forum, and you will be entered into a competition for an e-copy of the book donated by Cooperative Press.

And, we are hosting a

Cleaning off the Needles KAL/CAL!  Your project must be a WIP as of July 10, 2014 and must be off the needles by midnight of the Autumnal Equinox, 22 September. There will be prizes, including stitch markers donated by lotsofhermies and a project bag and yarn just like the ones from TwinSet Sumer Camp. We’ll start a thread for both chat and FOs.

Fashion Forecast

Ellen continues to lead a learn-along for her Paving Mitts pattern at StevenBe.  Jan is looking forward to chauffeuring Louise and her mom to the Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat in late September.

The twins are going on a tour - the TwinSet Living Doll Tour!  Check out the thread in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group for info on how you can have the toddler twin dolls visit you!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 43 — We Can Haz Math Skillz!!


In which we discuss the kindness of Susan B. Anderson, the TwinSet Dolls World Tour, quiet Independence Days, an abundance and a dearth of cherries, biting off more than one should chew, a new to Dale sailboat, drinking rum punch (possibly to excess), the arrival on the farm of Hedy, Ada, Grete and Grace, and Ellen’s compulsion to calculate.

Patterns of Our Lives:

The twins are going on a tour - the TwinSet Living Doll Tour!  Check out the thread in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group for info on how you can have the toddler twin dolls visit you!

Jan reports on a fiber festival at Flying Fibers.  Ellen failed to post show notes in time for you to learn about it in time for you to attend, but if you’d care to read about it as a history lesson, HERE is the link.

Jan has been processing cherries, Ellen has been a tiny bit relieved that her tree didn’t bear much this year (weird winter?) so she doesn’t have to.  Luckily she had a backup in storage, as she bap-bap-bapped until she actually broke her Norpro cherry stoner.  Maybe she learned something from this experience.

Jan taught a class on two-at-a-time, toe-up, magic loop socks.  She reports that this class with more than one or two concepts in a class, you need to plan more than two or three hours.  Maybe she learned something from this experience.

Six minus two equals four lambies who came home in the back of Jan’s Subaru to live at Fair Winds Farm.  Ada Lovelace (world’s first computer programmer), Grete Hermann (established algebra used in computer logic), Hedy Lamar  (developed algorithms used in frequency hopping) and Grace Hopper (mother of COBOL and the term “computer bug”) — her own little STEM cell — are all gamboling about on the pastures.  Her own Fair Isle sweater on the hoof, given the range of colors.  Maybe we’ve all learned something from this experience.

Dale has his own fun - a 16 foot Hobie Cat sailboat.  He has the experience and the learning.

Etsy store?  Is Jan really going to get it open?  She says she will do it and Ellen said she’d get the show notes up before she does.  (As I type, I wonder if I will click publish before she activates, because she hasn’t opened it yet!)

Time for Ellen to jump in with something - she went to a luau at a friend of Wilson’s.  That’s really about it - work, exercise, knit.  Hey, that sounds OK!

Finely or Finally Knit:

Ellen finished and blocked  a wrap which she used to practice lever knitting (Wrapsody in Be Fabulous by Steven Berg), which she learned in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s class.  She comments that superwash yarn (Modewerk Fingering) really stretches long and wide and drapey.

Jan finished her Holbrook Shawl in The Uncommon Thread Silky Merino Fingering in the Zitouni colorway.  Zitouni means “My olive” in Arabic. She used size US 5 needles and about 1 1/2 100gram skeins for somewhere around 600 meters. She aggressively blocked it.  (I’m sure she enjoyed that.)

Jan has also worked up Sweet Baby James — a new design. It is top down and incorporates a fascine braid for a faux saddle shoulder. She also use an i-cord cast on that forms a nice little collar before joining to work in the round. It is named for her soon to be born great nephew.

Apparently, Jan hasn’t slept recently as she also finished 2 pair of baby booties and a baby hat. One pair will go with the little sweater to Florida for James.

On the Runway:

Ellen is down to three WIPS - her Bohus reproduction named Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design, a pair of socks, a hat, and another sweater (that hasn’t seen any work for quite a while). She’s focused on Rimfrost and has finished 9/16 of a sleeve.  We won’t bore you with what fraction of a sweater that is.

Jan is working on her Greek Key patterned hat to thank the hero in her lost item story from last episode, working in alpaca yarn.   Another hat is on the needles, this one out of Wensleydale handspun, and she also has unearthed her Death Spiral shawl, her version of Erica Gunn’s Spiral Shawl, which she is knitting out of  Touch Yarns Mohair Merino.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen admits she has knit something like 1.2 sleeves, not 9/16, truth be told.  She decided the sleeve was really too large of a circumference, so she frogged back to the underarm and added a gusset to sharply decrease the sleeve.  And in frogging Wrapsody, she found two dropped stitches.  It took 60 rows to drop down to one of them, but it was a successful endeavor.

Jan’s knitting was well-behaved.

360 Degrees

Both twins have started their Tour de Fleece spinning.  Ellen is still working on the Spinning Bunny top in colorway Sled Dog.  Working with a Golding spindle has really sped up her rate of production.  Maybe she’ll finish that fiber yet!

Jan is spinning alpaca on her Kromski Sonata.  She plans to spin enough for Mishka, Julie Weisenberg’s great sweater.

Fiber Jargon:

A fibershed is a regional textile supply chain.  Kind of like Jan’s backyard.

Ellen’s Embellishment is the FitBit - great for inter-marital competition. It is sad to open up one’s dashboard after a day when one forgot to wear the Fitbit and see ZERO steps.  Jan embellishes her Fitbit by using the app, MyFitnessPal.

Slick Tricks:

For afterthought heels Jan suggests knitting a flap with that waste yarn before you continue on with the working yarn of your project. It will give you something to use to put tension on the sock stitches making it far easier to put them on needles before you remove the waste yarn.

You May Already be a Wiener!

We are hosting a
Cleaning off the Needles KAL/CAL!  Your project must be a WIP as of July 10, 2014 and must be off the needles by midnight of the Autumnal Equinox, 22 September. There will be prizes. We’ll start a thread for both chat and FOs.

Fashion Forecast

Ellen is doing some travel for work and then comes home to lead a learn-along for her Paving Mitts pattern at StevenBe.And don’t forget…TwinSet Summer Camp!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 42 — Cleaning Off the Needles


In which we discuss pre-summer vacation (for some of us), 3 blind mice sightings, multiple LYS visits to include the wall of Cascade (Natural Stitches in Pittsburgh, PA and Fibre Space in Alexandria, VA), the PA Women Veterans Symposium, family gatherings, nature hikes wherein all appendages are retained, achieving apprentice grader and sorcerer status, losing one’s car keys and the kindness of strangers who are now true friends and our living dolls.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen and Wilson took a tour through some of the eastern States - spending time in West Virginia with Wilson’s parents, stopping in Athen’s Ohio (Ee-yow, Bobcats! Sock it to’em!), visiting Jan’s and Ellen’s mom in Marietta (and crossed paths with Jan while there), and then took the family to Washington, DC and then on to the Shenandoah Valley.  Highlights included a double sighting of Pileated Woodpeckers (Wilson’s uncle says when someone comes to him, a known avid birder, to tell him about the really weird bird they saw, his instant reply is “Pileated Woodpecker”), visits to the Heritage Farm Museum, and visits to the Smithsonian, seeing sights including Julia Child’s kitchen and the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz”.  Best part was all of the family who gathered, and this included another intersection with Jan when she and Dale were visiting the Dulles airport annex of the Air & Space Museum to attend an anniversary dinner of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association. That intersection included a visit to Fiber Space, Jan’s favorite Alexandria LYS.

Jan came to Pittsburgh for the symposium she has been planning, visited the knitting community found at Natural Stitches along with their wall of Cascade 220 AND several listeners(!), visited Jan’s and Ellen’s mom in Marietta (and crossed paths with Ellen while there), and reports that her PA Dept of Military and Veterans Affairs symposium went very well - its purpose, to bring together women veterans throughout Pennsylvania to help them understand their status as veterans and to what benefits they are entitled.  She and Dale then visited  the Dulles airport annex of the Air & Space Museum to attend an anniversary dinner of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association, which ended up allowing another intersection with Ellen. That intersection included a visit to Fiber Space, Jan’s favorite Alexandria LYS.

While Ellen continued vacationing (driving the Skyline Drive - GORGEOUS! and yum, blackberry cobbler at the Big Meadows wayside), Jan went back to the farm to get a cutting of hay in, manage her chicklets (the little cockerels are getting quite, um, cocky), and then got on the road again to Ohio for another class in fiber grading and sorting at Magical Farms.  She is now an apprentice grader sorter. We are all so proud.

Both twins admit to losing and then finding items under embarrassing circumstances.  I’m not writing about it here - you’ll have to listen to it on the episode.  That said - we can’t recommend enough that you take your fiber to 84 Alpacas Mill to process any fleeces you have.  These folks are incredibly kind and generous.  And if you lose your keys, check your vehicle’s roof.  (Or down the side of your chair.)

Finely or Finally Knit:

Forever in the Forest is STILL just a block away from being finished.  But she did finish the second of a second pair of socks in her own design (Diana’s Quiver) out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.  She hopes the pattern will be available soon. She also finished a pair of baby bootees which she used to practice her newly acquired Portuguese knitting skills.

And Chef Jenny is all knit up! Her chef’s jacket is gusseted under the arms and even buttons, for real.

Jan was a finishing fool.  She completed her  version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater, Reposo, in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool  and also finished her little Marie doll.  Her glasses are removable as is her purse, such nice detail!  Jan needs to protect her from her grown daughter, Marie’s, sticky fingers.  It seems she wants to bring her effigy home to live with her.

Jan also finished a new pair of socks  in Zitron Trekking 75/25 superwash/polyamide, colorway 006, a barber-poling mix of blues, lime and purple.    They are staggered all over in a cable pattern.  She is thinking of calling the pattern (when it comes out - hah!) Snake Socks.  Watch for them, but don’t hold your breathe.  And she finished her Faux Argyle hood, which she is using as a class sample for her Controlling Your Colors class.

On the Runway:

As always, Ellen continues work on her Bohus reproduction named Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design. She is quite proud of how the sleeves are going (note: pride goeth before a fall - as these show notes were written several weeks after the recording, we know of what we speak). And, she is working on a wrap which she used to practice lever knitting (Wrapsody in Be Fabulous by Steven Berg), which she learned in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s class.

Jan is working on a Greek Key patterned hat to thank the hero in her lost item story.   She is also working on the Holbrook Shawl in the yarn, The Uncommon Thread Silky Merino Fingering, which she purchased at Fiber Space with Ellen’s encouragement.

Is it possible that the twins could really and truly Clean Off their Needles???  They sound like they are making a bit of a commitment to do so…

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen re-finished her Forever in the Forest stole.  After nine years, she had learned a lot about how to use a long-tail cast on as an elastic edge, but she started the stole before she learned all that and so, the sewn bind off was much stretchier than the cast on edge at the other side of the stole. So, she picked up one leg of each st in the first row of the stole and then very carefully snipped and unravelled the cast on edge. She then used what were now the equivalent of live stitches on the needle to do an equivalent sewn bind off and now both edges are truly identical in stretch and appearance.

She also did a lot of repair work for knitting bitten by dogs and cats - executing a detailed and pretty darned good repair to a major gash in the Cowl for George Bailey she had knit for her sister-in-law, if she does say so herself.  This entailed knitting a new lace panel and weaving each and every row into the undamaged portion of the cowl.  She also repaired a friend’s mitten after stealing a bit of yarn from the inside of the mitten cuff facing so the repair wouldn’t be visible.

Jan barely had any issues - nibbles on the I-cord edge of Reposo, pulling out the i-cord edge after working about 15 inches and working it from the other side of the garment, which she liked better.  And it seems that working lace late at night remains a bad idea, as she had to correct some mistakes in the working of the edging on the Holbrook shawl.

Fiber Jargon:

Jan talked about guard hairs - primary hair, kemp, and gare.  Primary and secondary hairs are simply hairs coming from a primary or secondary follicle.  This doesn’t determine whether the hair is fine or stiff - medulation (being hollow) does.  Hollowness makes it rigid.  Guard hairs are fibers that support the softer fibers and protect them from the elements, kemp shows up mixed in with the fleece and is flat and coarse, and gare is quite similar, but is more associated with particular regions of the animal’s body. Jan points out again that the feeling of fineness is more related to the consistency of the fibers one to the next than specifically to the diameter of the fiber. If two samples are equally consistent, then the smaller diameter fiber will likely feel finer, too.  But if one sample is consistent and the other, though having finer diameters of fibers, is inconsistent, the former sample may feel softer and finer.

Slick Tricks:

Jan’s slick trick is to substitute another yarn or binding off and save a bit of yarn if you are running short and playing Yarn Chicken.  Ellen’s trick is to reduce the bulk when cinching the remaining stitches on a hat crown or a finger-tip by using the tip of a needle to tighten each stitch on the yarn cinch before tightening the loop.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Congratulations, Gayle, on her selection as winner of the Living Doll KAL.

For Jan, The Fashion Forecast is exciting but not as crazy as some weeks.  She will be adding some sheep to the farm soon - 4 new lambies!  Ellen is doing some travel for work and then comes home to lead a learn-along for her Paving Mitts pattern at StevenBe.

And don’t forget…TwinSet Summer Camp!

The first TwinSet Summer Camp is a go - from July 11-13 near Havre de Grace, Maryland. It will be smashing, with camp songs and crafts and swimming and hiking and you don’t have to do any of that if you’d rather knit!  Sunday afternoon we will all visit the farm which is less than an hour from camp.  Information is on the retreat page at the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group.

Enjoy the show!

Episode 41 — Podcaster Shout Out!


In which we mention many other podcasters, and in which we discuss squirrel kings, sailboats, shorn alpaca and sheep, getting our hackles up, visits by fast knitting friends, not buying a fleece and then buying one after all, a daughter-in-law hiking the Appalachian trail, sealing up our fine fiber and TwinSet Summer Camp!

Patterns of Our Lives:

Jan had Memorial Day weekend alone as her husband and son sailed a friend’s boat to Maine.  Jan did make new knitting friends in a class on Controlling Your Colors at Flying Fibers .  Her daughter-in-law is hiking the Appalachian Trail - check out her adventures at Adventures of Heidi Galore.

Ellen saw an Indigo bunting at her backyard feeder - quite a thrill.  And she saw an anomaly of nature - a squirrel king.  This is the rare instance where a nest of baby squirrels get tangled tails, possibly because pine resin has stuck them together.  She called the local animal control squads for assistance.

The baby squirrels were cute - but not as cute as baby alpacas after shearing.  Laura (LauraKnitsPA) came and helped Jan shear the herd.  William looks like a cotton swab with his fluffy head on a long thin neck.  His fleece is gorgeous - but filthy!  Valor’s (the Finnsheep ram) is gorgeous and Ellen has already bought it.

Ellen’s keeping those filthy moths away from her precious Bohus kits in gasketed waterproof containers.

Finely or Finally Knit:

Jan started and finished a project for her Controlling Your Colors class.  She knit a Faux Argyle hood - her own pattern in yarn from Persimmon Tree Farm - “Potluck” which is a 50/50 mohair/wool.

Ellen and Erica (Desigknit) whipped up a cute little Whitfield Shorty Jacket by Anne Hanson.  They worked it in the new Briar Rose yarn of Targhee wool.  Erica knit the sleeves and the pocket, Ellen knit the fronts, back, and collar.  Done in less than a week!

Forever in the Forest is just a block away from being finished!

On the Runway:

Jan continued on her new pair of socks started in Zitron Trekking 75/25 superwash/polyamide, colorway 006, a barber-poling mix of blues, lime and purple.    She’s doing the socks in a staggered all over cable pattern.

Ellen continues working on the second of a second pair of socks in her own design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.  She hopes the pattern will be available soon. She cast on a pair of baby bootees to practice her newly acquired Portuguese knitting skills, and a wrap to practice lever knitting (Wrapsody in Be Fabulous by Steven Berg), which she learned in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s class.

Jan’s version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater, Reposo, in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool is nearly done and Jan worked on a purse for her little Marie doll.

Ellen is continuing her design, Chain Mail gloves, and is testing the pattern as she goes.  Her Portuguese Baby Booties seam to be done - except for the seams.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen learns, yet again, that it is useful to follow an expert designer’s pattern as her variations to the Whitfield Shorty turned around and bit her. Tiny errors may have crept in, at least until she and Erica actually followed Anne’s directions.

Jan barely had any issues - a mis-crossed cable or two, but that’s all.

360 Degrees:Ellen had day dreams about what she will do with Valor’s fleece. Her plans include a gentle wash followed by combing.  She’ll use a hackle and hand comb. Check out several videos (Forsythe Woolen Combs) on how elegant this fiber prep can be.

Slick Tricks:

Ellen shared how Lisa (turbogal) saved her Black & White sweater that stretched in the blocking - superwash wool will sometimes tighten back up if it is thrown in the dryer.

Jan’s slick trick was to select the perfect size of O-ring from a variety pack to put on the shaft of her bobbin winder to hold various bobbins in place on it.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Jan now has a doll for the Living Doll KAL, though it does need clothes.  Check out the Twinset Designs Ravelry group where we are creating little living dolls from Mary, Millie, and Morgan.  the KAL will end with the Summer Solstice, and the prize will be a Susan B. Anderson pattern (single pattern) of the winner’s choice along with a copy of the Pam Allen book, Scarf Style.

For Jan, The Fashion Forecast means continuing her crazy schedule - on June 6-8 she’ll be in Pittsburgh for the PA Women Veterans Seminar and plans to visit Natural Stitches near Philadelphia .

The first TwinSet Summer Camp is a go - from July 11-13 near Havre de Grace, Maryland. It will be smashing, with camp songs and crafts and swimming and hiking and you don’t have to do any of that if you’d rather knit!  Sunday afternoon we will all visit the farm which is less than an hour from camp.  Information is on the retreat page at the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group. We are still finalizing cost details, so no registration form yet, but watch this space for it!

Enjoy the show!