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Episode 60 — Father’s Day Surprise Visits


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

Episode 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!

A few good yarns…

Dear Jan,

I recently was the lucky winner in two separate contests.  One was pure fun and such a delight to win – Vicki Notorious, dyer of the lovely Make.Do yarns.  I took a semi-educated guess at how many little hexagons Vicki would get knit, and who’dathunkit, but I guessed correctly.  My reward for this little mental exercise was this lovely skein of yarn, Make.Do Be which is a 75:25 blend of superwash merino and nylon in fingering weight.

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Monotone yarns are wonderful for the way they show off stitch patterns, and this one has layers of color intensity to add a richness that a simple solid dye job would never have.  It is lovely and soft and I look forward to knitting it into foot joy.  Thank you, Vicki!

I also lucked out in another contest of a sort, a lottery to be able to buy some of a very rare breed of yarn spun from a few fleeces that Blacker Yarns managed to source.  In the process of closing the deal, I got to speak with Susan Blacker.  She is delightful, and so passionate and excited to be able to help preserve this breed.
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The Boreray sheep from which the yarn was spun originates from an archipelago south of Scotland and is considered the rarest breed on the Rare Breeds Survival Trust.  As many of those North Sea island sheep are, it is a primitive, dual coated and kempy breed, but also soft in a strong kind of way.  You can see the heavier fibers and even the kemp in the yarn.  I believe this is going to knit up nice and tweedy, great for outerwear.  The color is fabulous – oatmeal with bits of brown sugar, is how I think of it.  I am also thinking of a super weather-resistant hat with this rarest of all commercially available yarns on the outside and perhaps some super soft yarn for a liner.

And as the last post reminded me, it really is time to start getting those warm winter woolies knit up.  Is it autumn in Quarryville yet?

Love,

Ellen

Socktober

Dear Ellen,

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I am sitting here typing with chilly fingers thinking I should have been knitting gloves this month instead of socks.  It has been snowing or sleeting all day.   We’ve only gotten a few inches of accumulation, but it is wet and heavy — and the trees are straining under the weight.  From my vantage point in my studio I am hearing the cracks and pops of a limb falling every half hour or so…several are kinda near the house, so enough to get nerves on edge!

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I did accomplish a good bit in the aforementioned sock knitting.  I’m almost done with my Hot Feet socks.  They’re based on the flame rib pattern and they are hug the foot very nicely as a result.  I knit them from this flame-like colorway to add to the thought of nice warm feet.  The heals are in eye of partridge — I love how it works so nicely with this colorway that has longer dark repeats and shorter bright repeats.

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I also got started on a pair of socks in Neighborhood Fiber Company’s Eastern Market colorway.  They’ll be for a young lady who lived in that neighborhood for a few years.  I don’t think she reads our blog that much, so I believe I’m safe to mention it here.  The pattern is the candle flame lace pattern.  I hope that’s not foreshadowing a need for candles if a tree limb takes out our power!

dsc03680.JPGFinally, I blocked the  Spring Lace socks that I cast on during Sock Summit…oh, the memories! The lace pattern is supposedly a floral design and if you look closely you can imagine the stacked rosettes working their way up the leg.  Let me offer that it is not worth it — It is one of those little lace patterns with many centered decreases and a really evil way of making you think you are on a row other than the one you’re supposed to be knitting.  I spent the entire first sock getting it into my head solidly enough to make the second sock easy.  Of course, the fact that I kept putting it down and working on something else may have had something to do with it.

best-of-knitscene.jpgI proved once again that I am a shameless book whore strong supporter of the publishing industry and our fellow designers and picked up both Coastal Knits  and The Best of KnitsceneAs there are many reviews out there right now for the former, I thought I’d offer a quick review on the latter.  This is a really nice little book!  Not only does it have 20 patterns, all of which I’d be willing to knit (and several which I feel I must knit), but it also includes extra articles on the designers and on a number of very useful tips and descriptions to help even the seasoned knitter be more successful.  Two of the patterns have been in my mental queue forever — Connie Chang Chinchio’s Geodesic Cardigan and Cecily Glowik Macdonald’s Michaelmas Mitts.  The first is an open front cardi with a lovely horizontal pleat detail on the front vertical bands and the second are long mitts trimmed with buttons and knit in some wonderful fuzziness.  It’s nice to know that the book includes updates to these (and all 20) to correct all errata found since their original publication in the original magazines.  At least three other patterns are shouting at me to dig out yarn and cast on.  Get this book and I guarantee a case of startitis!

I’m looking forward to drawing our winners from our birthday party celebration.  Till then,

Love, Jan

Step Up to Better Beer

dsc02709.JPGDear Ellen,

Well, stepping up to better beer is a very good idea, don’t you think?  I’ll tell you that it was good idea for us to meet some new friends in Lancaster at the Lancaster Brewing Company.  Ed and Ellen are building a home near ours with the same builder.  We had lots to talk about.  Coincidentally, much was centered on the quality of the dsc02706.JPGdsc02708.JPGfine beer and food that we enjoyed while visiting this fine establishment.  When you visit we will make sure to put LBC on our agenda.  Their sampler tray (13 5 oz. samples for $15) was VERY enjoyable and the Amish Four Grain was one of my favorites.

Love, Jan

I’d Spring Back if I Had Any Snap Left in My Elastic

Dear Ellen,

dsc02440.JPGdsc02446.JPGdsc02424.JPGI can’t believe that spring is here.  I know you can’t either.  Of course, the fact that you still have massive piles of snow probably affects your view of things, but down here we have robins, daffodils and lots of mud.  The tree buds are swelling and some of the cherry trees are actually blooming.  The think I hate about spring being here is the loss of an hour this weekend.  I was tired enough without trying to manage the day without that hour.  And I had to drag myself out of bed before I was ready in hopes of going to be on EST vice DST.  If I don’t 4:45 AM will feel like 3:45 AM House tomorrow and that would not be a good way to start the work week.

dsc02425.JPGI’m pleased to report that we will now be able to tell the direction of the wind at Fair Winds.  Our weathervane went on the turret this week.  Only problem is you have to subtract about 65 degrees or so from the heading as they failed to correctly align the directionals.  Oh well!  This one is easily fixed…and can actually be used as a learning point for when our inlaid wood medallion goes into our floor — something that cannot be easily fixed!  With this error, I think dsc02429.JPGdsc02436.JPGdsc02428.JPGthey’ll be extra careful to have the compass out when they put the medallion in!  We now also have interior trim through much of the house and garage doors…it all adds to a more complete looking house.  I am so eager to see it when the rest of the window trim goes on and the landscaping gets started!

dsc02450.JPGdsc02451.JPGdsc02452.JPGI have finished a bit on knitting this week…not really that much volume, but hats do go quickly.  Yes, I’m working on another hat for Warm Hats Not Hot Heads, but the ones I finished this week were for an charity effort for Haiti where it is surprisingly cold at night.  These three will head off to join others to make the journey to help those still trying to recover form the earthquake last year…makes my concern for those in New Zealand and Japan even more acute when I realize how far from recovery Haiti still is.  I’ll be watching for an opportunity to help the kiwis and Japanese too.

dsc02448.JPGThe more complex project I’ve been working on is my Primula Shawl.  (Sorry, still no project page…in fact, I’m about 10 project pages behind at this point!)  I’ve added some extra rows of patterning to the project to use up the yarn and I’m pretty darned pleased with it for a first complex shawlette pattern.  I do have some real tweaking to do.  I want the ends to wrap more to the front like a faroese shawl, so just a bit of adjustment.  I love the color — the color for ovarian cancer awareness.  You may remember that Ann’s Hat was designed and knit for a friend with ovarian cancer.  (That pattern is up to 54 projects and is in 67 queues!)  This shawl is for her as she continues the fight.  All that’s left is the bind off and blocking.

dsc02454.JPGHere’s a picture of the Blue Spiral Cowl that I knit from stash yarn using the pattern Spiraluscious.  Glad I had listened to The Knit Wits podcast where Princess Carin the Knit had problems with that one extra stitch.  I have to admit that if I hadn’t been watching for the problem spot, I probably would have done the same thing.  The way the pattern is written, it’s easy to misinterpret it so that you think you are to increase a stitch each time you do row 16.  Reading it very deliberately you realize you are only supposed to do that the LAST TIME you knit row 16.  Technically, it’s written correctly, but I do think it warrants a bit more clarity for those of us who have exhausted a few too many brain cells.

dsc02449.JPGI still think of my cabled socks and the Sweater from Down Under as WIPs, but they are rapidly heading towards UFO status if I don’t get back to them soon.  I have the sweater ready to join me downstairs so I can match cabling down the sleeves while I work on them.  The socks come and go to PA with us in their nice little project bag.  At least they know I’m thinking of them.

51btz-3nbll_sl500_aa300_.jpgI want to close with a book review.  When I saw a dog that looked so much like Ruby on the cover, I couldn’t resist buying a copy of  Knit Your Own Dog:  Easy to Follow Patterns for 25 Pedigree Pooches by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne.  It is such a great little book!  I want to start taking pictures of all the dogs I know so I can recreate them in yarn.  The book doesn’t walk you through the process of “matching” your actual dog’s coloration to their patterns, but really, it’s just a matter of modifying the color patterns, the actual body patterns don’t have to change.  The author’s have their own knitwear business in London and they export completed garments as well as writing some great patterns.  They have two earlier books centered on pet accessories.  These gals obviously both love their pets and they know them very, very well.  I love that the patterns are extremely realistic and as the authors point out, the patterns include “details specific to each breed.”  They look to be clearly written, achievable for an intermediate knitter (there is fair isle, intarsia and shaping at a very fine gauge) who also knows how to manipulate fabric with a sewing needle.  I love them!  There are patterns for terriers, working dogs, sporting dogs, hounds and non-sporting.  I can’t decide which is my favorite, but I’m partial to the terriers of course,  and the corgi and the westie crack me up.  I’m dying to cast on — but it will require some planning as I’ll need to break my yarn diet to do it.  (Though there is that clause about buying yarn for gift knitting!)  The introduction ends with the encouragement to “Stitch your bitch.”  When I first skimmed it, I thought it said, “Stitch, you bitch.”  And I wondered, how did they know?

Love, Jan