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

Archive for the ‘Fair Winds’


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.

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.

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!

Episode 40 — But We Digress

In which we evidently discuss everything whether it relates to the planned content or not.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen enjoyed the end of Fiber Fest, taking in Andrea Wong’s class on Portuguese Knitting and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Knitting for Speed and Efficiency classes, as well as a lecture from Stephanie that was all about smart knitting.  From Andrea, Ellen learned that purling with your thumbs can be easier than using your fingers!  And Steph had many words of wisdom, including to beware swatches that grow as they suggest a serious problem with the fabric contained.  Her class on knitting efficiency included such gems as “petting your knitting is not the same as knitting!”

Jan spent some time at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, where she was very restrained in her fiber purchases, though Dale did buy a spinning wheel.  For her, of course.  Happy early birthday indeed!  The wheel was a Road Bug, made by David of the Merlin Tree.

Ellen eased the pain of going back to work with a work group outing to the Textile Center.  Bevil joined her and they dyed yarn (pink for Bevil, of course, and teals for Ellen, also of course) and tried their hand (should I say fingers?) at kumihimo.

Jan continues her education in alpaca, this time by showing Sweet William and Shrinking Violet at the PAOBA (Pennsylvania Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association) show.  Despite being in the wrong color class, William came home with a 4th place ribbon.  Just wait until next year!  But she didn’t have to wait till next year to bring home ribbons for a rug, a hat, and yarn - handspun and commercially spun.

Ellen has been spending some time killing babies (more clothes moths, sigh.  Tip: check old boxes of shoes when you clean out for moths.)  Jan spent time welcoming babies - more chicks, mixed heavy breed chicks, some of whom will grow into laying hens and some of whom will  grow into dinner.

And Shepherd’s Harvest made a nice finish to the fiber season in Minnesota.  Believe it or not, Ellen didn’t buy much - some sheep cheese and an ounce of guanaco fiber.  Yum on both counts!  The Black Welsh sheep farm she mentioned is Chengwatana Farms.

On the Runway:

Ellen continues on Forever in the Forest and is on tier 21 of 21!.  She is also 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.

Reposo, Jan’s version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool took a siesta while Jan worked on clothes for her little Marie doll.   She 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.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

The twins toes were nibbled as both had minor issues with socks in progress.  A miscrossed cable here, a tink back to correct pattern there (even if the sock is the 4th in that pattern one has knit, it is possible).

Finely or Finally Knit:

This week it was Jan’s turn to be productive - she finished a Coiled Carpet — hand sewn from rug yarn from her alpaca, and also worked up a new design - Twisted Tocque — 100% alpaca DK hat on size 6 needles; heavily cabled.  Your editor thinks she linked to the right project - but you’d better check with Jan!  360 Degrees:

Ellen continues to spin her top top from All For the Love of Yarn in 80:20 merino:silk in the colorway Greek Mythology.  Spinning a sock yarn with laceweight plies does take time.  She is in her final ounce of four, then for some plying fun.  This just might not be a simple 4-ply!

Jan spun up some Falkland dyed by Erica of Desigknit, plyed the alpaca singles she spun at the farm show, and test drove her new wheel with some fiber from MDSW.  She admits to once more buying fiber “seconds” and regretting it - they drafted poorly.  Let this be a warning to you!

Fiber Jargon:

Ellen discussed courses and wales.  Of course, a course is the technical term for a knitted row, and wale, a wale is a column of stitches (think corduroy wales).

Embellishments:

Jan provided the embellishment for the week - Roku 3.  She loves the universal search feature.

Fun Fur:

Ellen’s fun fur is really fun leather - fish leather!

Slick Tricks:

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 - she will be teaching a couple of classes at Flying Fibers

  • May 15 — Toe Up Socks, using her Fast Baby Booties pattern (a freebie!) (the pattern, not the class)
  • May 22 — Control Your Colors, working with variegated yarn for planned color pooling

She’ll also be having Shearing Day at Fair Winds Farms on May 27.  Then June 6-8 she’ll be in Pittsburgh for the PA Women Veterans Seminar.

Ellen has another day of Shepherd’s Harvest - we’ll see if she maintains her resistance to adding to her stash.

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!

Episode 39 — The Wolf Closest to the Sleigh


In which we discuss the craziness that has been our lives in the last month, fiber classes, fiber judging, birdies at our feeders, finally seeing signs of spring in Minnesota, Yarnover and Fiber Fest, visiting family and friends, healthy animals, paying taxes, wearing jelly beans and harvesting golf balls.

Patterns of Our Lives:

It turns out that when you let a month slip past between recording sessions, one’s life patterns get pretty complicated. Jan in particular has been crazy busy.  Not that we’re  saying that her past is checkered, but it is highly patterned!  We slipped in some microphone time right in the middle of the Yarnover/StevenBe Fiber Fest weekend for Ellen and Jan’s schedule of volunteer duty at the MAPACA weekend show - and we amazed each other with how much had happened since we last spoke.

Ellen saw two snowstorms, despite the suggestion of the calendar that spring should have arrived in Minneapolis.  At least when the snow melted, the grass was green.  And at least she doesn’t live in Duluth, where they got 28″ compared to the mere 16″ in the Twin Cities.  Luckily, she records from the bedroom in the basement and was covered in warm fleece - 16 samples of rare breed samples that she got washed up while snowbound.  She recommends Synthrapol as an excellent fleece scour - low sudsing and boy, does it get that fleece clean.

Both twins have been seeing lots of birds at their feeders (Ellen’s juncoes needed  snow shoes as they foraged on the ground during one of those storms, sinking in up to their bellies).  Jan has heard and seen evidence of pileated woodpeckers in her woods - that is a serious bird.

Another serious bird, Jan’s broody hen, is brooding golf balls no more.  It turns out that a little airing of her behind by being kept in a wire cage for a couple of days cooled her down and got her interested in hanging out with her barnyard buddies once more.

Yoda is blowing his down coat, and Jan is picking it up off the fence-line as it turns out to be quite soft.  Who knew Yoda was a cashmere goat?  (Editors note: any goat can produce cashmere - it simply refers to the fineness of the undercoat.)  Jan does know that Finnsheep will make a great addition to the farm and is eagerly anticipating the arrival of her reserved ewe lambs.  If only Valor, her ram, knew about the impending arrival, he’d be eagerly anticipating them, too, but he will have to be patient!  Jan is making her final choices and may end up with one grey, one white, one black, and one brown - a spinner’s dream.

Easter Sunday was warm and sunny in Minnesota and Ellen and Wilson went walking in the woods, their way of recognizing the season of rebirth.  Ellen wore jelly beans - socks that were cranked by her buddy, Lisa, in Knit Picks Felici sock yarn in the colorway, Jelly Bean.  Jan had family in for a fitting dinner - leg of lamb.  Hmmm, more anticipating of a flock of sheep on the farm!

Jan also had a house party of 8 total for a weekend of good food, good drink, and amazement that friends who met almost 25 years ago all looked exactly as they did when they all taught at the West Point U.S. Military Academy.   Maybe if you drink enough…

She’s also been spinning more alpaca samples, hosting other guests, working on a conference for women veterans, and teaching knitting classes at Flying Fibers.   And making Ellen feel like a lazy lout, but actually, Ellen is OK with that.

Jan took part in an alpaca handling clinic with Marty McGee Bennett, the alpaca whisperer, from the sound of it.  She then acted as  judging scribe at the MAPACA (mid-atlantic alpaca association) Jubilee.  We may need to send Jan some earplugs to keep her brains from oozing out of her ears - how can one head absorb all that new knowledge without something giving?

Phew, can we get to the knitting now?

On the Runway:

Ellen continues on Forever in the Forest and is well into tier 19 of about 21.  She is also 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.  And she knit on Many Moments of Grace, her reproduction of the Bohus Stickning design, Rimfrost while recording the show. She returned to her Chain Mail gloves.  The first is done, with all the gussets that Ellen loves (on the thumb, between the fingers).  She will carefully knit the second according to her notes and write up the pattern at the same time (at least that is what she intends).  And this being Yarnover/Fiber Fest weekend, she has a class project going now, too - a colorwork hat designed in a great class with Mary Scott Huff, stand up comic and colorwork designer.

In between all of her activity, Jan has been continuing to work on Reposo, her version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool.  She has also gotten a new pair of socks started in Zitron Trekking 75/25 superwash/polyamide, colorway 006, a barber-poling mix of blues, lime and purple.  Jan reports that the  Karbonz 1.5s she is knitting them with aren’t her favorites as she does not like the the join between tip and shaft of the needle. She won’t be using them after these socks.  She’s doing the socks in a staggered all over cable pattern, toe up as she is wont to do. (Ellen loving some archaic English here.)

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen discovered, make that re-discovered, that lace knitting goes much better during the day when one is alert than at night when one is drowsy.  She discovered, make that re-discovered, this by knitting lace when it was night and she was drowsy.  Perhaps you figured that out?  At any rate, she notes that when knitting entrelac, if you fail to do the joining stitch at the edge of your module, you don’t get a coherent piece, you get little flaps.

Ellen also knit a cowl-sized swatch, which later became a gaiter-sized gaiter, the appropriate sized project for the amount of yarn which she had.  As she knit the “swatch” while practicing ergonomic walking knitting in Carson Demer’s Fiber Fest class on that topic, she wasn’t really discouraged.  (Carson Demers - a physical therapist who doesn’t tell you to stop knitting because your knitting is hurting you.  Instead, he helps you knit with less damage to your body and hunts for other things in your life for you to change.  Because he knows not knitting will hurt even more!)

Jan learned that if one doesn’t knit much, the chance to be bitten by it is slim.

Finely or Finally Knit:

Ellen finished one more pair of her Paving Mitts.  This one is named Paved in Gold and is worked in The Yarns of Rhichard Devrieze  Peppino.

And that gaiter-sized gaiter - also finished, in less than a day thanks to bulky yarn (Sirdar Click Chunky) and not that much of it.  Because of the limited yarn, Ellen worked her chosen pattern, Mary Lou Egan’s Miss Gulch without the edging and with a much shorter cast-on and with a shorter pattern repeat.  It’s a small Gulch, so she has called it Gully.

Jan knit a potholder.  That’s nice, Jan.

Ready to Wear:

The Paving Mitts pattern is published!  Thanks to test crocheters, Cindi (cperrine) and Vicky (vicksbear) who made beautiful samples and helped me improve the pattern.  And to unofficial test crocheter Lisa (turbogal), who has made two pair of the mitts already.

The pattern is in Tunisian crochet simple stitch in the round, a natural for fingerless mitts. Worked in two colors, one tonal and one variegated, an effect of tiny colorful pavers laid in even rows is created. A perfect project for using up leftover sock yarn!  It requires a double ended hook. The pattern includes useful links to techniques needed to complete mitts including Tunisian crochet techniques and crab stitch or reverse single crochet.

5 Minute Interview:

Dr. Yarn returns.  We aren’t sure about his advice on substituting yarns…it just doesn’t jive with all that we’ve been told by other experts.  Wait, what am I saying?  I mean, it’s Dr. Yarn, it must be right.  Right?

360 Degrees:

Ellen continues to spin her top top from All For the Love of Yarn in 80:20 merino:silk in the colorway Greek Mythology.  Spinning a sock yarn with laceweight plies does take time.  She is in her final ounce of four, then for some plying fun.  This just might not be a simple 4-ply!

Jan spun up alpaca samples she was judging for the MAPACA Jubiliee show, and despite the crush to get them done, found it very rewarding to be able to compare  the spinning scores to the scores which the actual fleeces earned in the show.

Fiber Jargon:

Ellen discussed what a quilted fleece is, and Jan explained why it is a defect in fleeces to be commercially processed.  This  excessive quilted appearance to the fleece (where the dark fibers are shorter than the white or vice versa), occurring after the first shearing, is something a hand spinner can deal with by separating the colors, but in a commercial process, the disparate fiber lengths would result in a lower quality product or lower yield.  Ellen found the term in an article on Jacob sheep by Alison Pacuska in the 2nd issue of Ply magazine.

All the talk of quilts reminded Jan of the term, cotting, which refers to the matting together of a fleece during growth, such that it sticks firmly together and becomes difficult to process.

Embellishments:

Jan provided the embellishment for the week - the amazing ceramic work of Charan Sachar at Creative with Clay. He is a clay artisan who has recently learned to knit and is very clever. His homemade swift is very ingenious and very inexpensive. And his pottery — oh my, it is fantastic. His patterns are inspired by Indian textiles and embroidery as well as the henna tattoo tradition. His process if really cool — www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4v2JcZ1g18 — like decorating a cake, but it’s clay. Jan bought one of his cheese/butter holders to use as a notions tray on my end table and he’s pondering how he would make his version of a yarn bowl. Beautiful colors and textured patterns, check him out at his blog and his Etsy shop. Through May 21st using the code TWINSET will get you a 15% discount on beautiful ceramic art.  (If TWINSET doesn’t work, try TwinSet.)

Fun Fur:

Ellen fell prey to i-device gaming this time - 2048 is fun to play for a bit, but it may be time for her to delete it.

Slick Tricks:

This one stolen shamelessly from a recent KnitSpot newsletter - using oatmeal canisters or bread crumb or potato chip cans to hold the ends of a cowl open and prevent creases during blocking.  Jan suggested that if one wanted the cowl stretched, one could suspend it from a short length of pipe and weight it with a water bottle.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Both Jan and Ellen admit to a lack of focus on their dolls for the Living Doll KAL.  Jan’s version of her daughter, Marie, does have a head now.  Ellen’s dolls at least have yarn chosen for them.  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.

The Fashion Forecast is for continuation of fiber season.  For Ellen, this means Shepherd’s Harvest.  For Jan, it means continuing her crazy schedule - she will be teaching a couple of classes at Flying Fibers

  • May 15 — Toe Up Socks, using her Fast Baby Booties pattern (a freebie!) (the pattern, not the class)
  • May 22 — Control Your Colors, working with variegated yarn for planned color pooling

She’ll also be attending (and hopefully showing little alpaca in) the PAOBA (Pennsylvania Alpaca Owners and Breeders Association) show on 9-11 May at the York County Fairgrounds; and she’ll be having Shearing Day at Fair Winds Farms on May 27.  Then June 6-8 she’ll be in Pittsburgh for the PA Women Veterans Seminar.

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!

Episode 38 — Marco…Polo!!


In which we discuss ongoing winter, the first signs of spring, a broody hen, a great knitting class with Candace Eisner Strick, insane activity in Jan’s life (that ended up preventing her from getting this episode edited for THREE weeks…yes, that’s right, three weeks), the languishing effort to get the Fair Winds Farm etsy shop open, our knitting and some tunisian crochet, the availability of the Paving Mitts pattern from Ellen, choosing yarn colors for a multiple yarn project like those mitts, the Living Doll KAL, a trick, an embellishment and some more information about a possible summer camp this July.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Jan’s broody hen is trying to hatch golf balls, while Ellen broods about the ever-lasting winter of Minnesota.  She is encouraged to know that NASA has apparently made an important discovery in her state.

Jan continues to be the tease regarding getting her Etsy shop open, but for good reason - she is in the middle of a perfect storm of work and volunteer and homefront needs.  Ellen feels low energy in comparison, but also has the time in her schedule to jump on opportunities to take impromptu knitting classes.  She can recommend the class she caught with Candace Eisner Strick at StevenBe - full of material and quick-paced but fun.

On the Runway:

Ellen continues on Forever in the Forest and is well into tier 16 of about 23.  Or maybe 21 if it seems long enough (she’s been knitting it long enough!)  She is also working on a second pair of socks in her own design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.  She hopes the pattern will be available soon.  And she knit on Many Moments of Grace, her reproduction of the Bohus Stickning design, Rimfrost while recording the show.  Her main focus, though, has been more Tunisian crochet mitts, and she’s now working a pair in The Yarns of Rhichard Devrieze 100% merino Fingering (which searching on Ravelry shows that the skein bands haven’t caught up to the marketing, as the name there is Peppino.   The mitts require two color ways and she is using Marco Polos (rich golds and browns) and Diva (deep purples and the same browns).  These are her own pattern for Tunisian crochet in the round, which is being test-crocheted and will be available soon.

Jan has been continuing to work on Reposo, her version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool, and she knows she will be done soon as she is running out of yarn!  She took a peak at her Death Spiral shawl, her version of Erica Gunn’s Spiral Shawl, which she is knitting out of  Touch Yarns Mohair Merino.  No sign of Felfs this week.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Suffice it to say that neither twin needed stitches this week.  Ellen did note that in Tunisian crochet, you can’t easily drop back to fix a stitch several rounds below - you have to unravel.  And Jan did the odd tink or two, but nothing major.

Finely or Finally Knit:

Jan has finished the second of a new pair of socks in Wisdom Yarn’s Saki Bamboo.  She is calling them Toes in the Sand.  And with the leftovers, she made a sweet little preemie hat.  You can find a picture of that on Instagram, where she is twinsetjan.  (Ellen is twinsetellen on Instagram, but you already had that figured out, didn’t you?)

The pair of mitts on Ellen’s runway is her 3rd pair - she started and finished another one in the days between podcast recordings. This pair is out of Socks That Rock Seduction, a bamboo/wool blend with luster in a grey colorway that sets off the Claudia Hand Paint Addiction (previously Fingering) in Lemon Ice, a gray, yellow, electric green and white variegation.

Ready to Wear:

It’s Ellen’s turn to tease.  She believes she will have the pattern out for the Tunisian mitts very soon, possibly before this episode airs.  Was she right?

Design Principles:

Ellen discussed how she approached choosing colorways for the Tunisian mitts, looking for a yarn that would pick up one of the colors in the variegated yarn and serve as the grid that lays on top of the variegated background.  Using a tonal yarn for that grid adds more visual interest without being too busy.   She lucked out that her leftover Seduction was perfect for the Claudia Hand Paint, but she had it easier when choosing two yarns from the same dyer for the third pair of mitts.  (That dyer, Rhichard Devrieze, used to dye for Shibui, by the way, and his new yarn is every bit as gorgeous.)

360 Degrees:

Ellen continues to spin her top top from All For the Love of Yarn in 80:20 merino:silk in the colorway Greek Mythology.  Spinning a sock yarn with laceweight plies does take time.  It is surprising that Jan has time for it, but she has taken on more fiber samples for judging for MAPACA (Mid-Atlantic Alpaca Association, not the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association, though spinning is certainly becoming more popular.

Embellishments:

Ellen reports on the beauty and usefulness (and safety) of her new wooden OXO citrus reamer.

Slick Tricks:

Jan gave scitchr credit for a slick trick she reported in the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group - the use of an i-cord edging to hide the loose ends in a striped project.  That’s slick!

You May Already be a Weiner!

Both Jan and Ellen admit to a lack of focus on their dolls for the Living Doll KAL.  Nancyswerner has focused - check her Living Doll out on the group thread. Adorable!  The group is creating little living dolls from Mary, Millie, and Morgan, the KAL will end with the Summer Solstice, and yes, there will be prizes.

The Fashion Forecast is for fiber season.  For Ellen, this includes Yarnover (April 26), and the same weekend, StevenBe’s FiberFest, followed two weeks later by Shepherd’s Harvest.

Jan will be teaching a raft of classes at Flying Fibers

  • April 10 — Swagger, based on her shawl pattern (4/20 note - this is in the past!)
  • April 17 — Intro to Entrelac (4.20 note - this is being rescheduled!)
  • May 15 — Toe Up Socks, using her Fast Baby Booties pattern (a freebie!) (the pattern, not the class)
  • May 22 — Control Your Colors, working with variegated yarn for planned color pooling

So many other events coming up for Jan, with lots of farm-related stuff - MAPACA 25-27 April; Harrisburg Farm Show Arena — PAOBA 9-11 May York County Fairgrounds; and Shearing Day at Fair Winds Farms on May 27.  Then June 6-8 she’ll be in Pittsburgh for the PA Women Veterans Seminar.

We’d like to hear from you if you’d be interested in attending the first TwinSet Summer Camp from July 9-13 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!  Let us know on the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group. We will sign the contract for the camp if we get enough interest soon.  And we mean soon - we’ll be deciding in just the next week or so.

Enjoy the show!

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!