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

Archive for the ‘Tips and Tricks’


Episode 62 — Just Adorable!

In which we give a recap of TwinSet Summer Camp 2015, reaching 1,000 members, the shenanigans of the lamb Squirrel, a Seattle trip including visits to Tolt and So Much Yarn (and Starbucks!), knits for Vlad and being underwater with our knitting.

Episode 57 — Heaven Knows


In which we discuss a dinner for more than two in DC, visits from dear friends (military friends and podcaster friends!), a fun speaking engagement, a visit to DC by Karen, getting the Full Monty, biking around mother nature, Yarnover, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and baby lambs (!!!!), and in which Ellen’s geeks out.

Thanks to stalwart listeners, old and new, for joining us!  TwinSet Summer Camp has hit a critical mass of campers to be great fun, but there is still plenty of room to join us in July, the 10-12th to be exact.  The registration form can be found here. Please consider coming for a relaxing weekend of knitting in the woods (and enjoying great camp food. No lie, the chef at this camp really is good!).

Listeners, please note there is still a need for small bits of handspun for the “Welcoming the Stranger” art installation in Portland. The weaving is being called “Abraham’s Tent” and you can find more information from welcomingthestrangerart@gmail.com OR on Facebook: Welcoming the Stranger Art OR Ravelry. Abraham’s Tent Donations will be accepted till July 2015. 

Patterns of Our Lives:

The twins got together for a short visit while Ellen attended a sustainability conference in Washington, DC. Short, but sweet. And Ellen visited the fishing cats at the National Zoo, too. She enjoyed seeing them wake up and stretch. Jan was busy enjoying seeing Fulton Theater production of the Full Monty, including a little unintended fully full monty peek!

Ellen enjoyed her classes with Myrna Stahman and Susan B Anderson at Yarnover. And Jan is enjoying the growth of her flock as two ram lambs have made their way into the world.

Jan also enjoyed Maryland Sheep and Wool, especially a visit from The Savvy Girls that came with it.

Finely or Finally Knit

Ellen finished her simply stole.  The pattern name: Stole.  In nine stripes of Rach-Al-Paca Suri alpaca in lustrous colors ranging from deep orange through creams and on to greens and blues, it simply pleases her.

And Jan finally finished Felfs out of Paton’s Classic Wool Roving for her son.  She also worked up a little baby hat for Kiley (aka MiniPurlGirl) and her project to raise awareness about Shaken Baby Syndrome. Get a hat to Kiley by the end of May and mention our podcast and you will be entered in a contest for a skein of Wollmeise (in addition to the drawing that everyone is entered into).

On the Runway

Jan continues working on prototype validation of the Tangled Vines Socks out of Pediboo from Frog Tree Yarns, an 80/20 merino/bamboo blend in colorway 1164 light teal, a semi-solid. She reports that the dropped stitch that caused her to frog last episode was a blessing in disguise as she cast on with slightly larger needles and is enjoying a more relaxed knit.

She is also working on Making Waves in gorgeous yarn she scored at Maryland Sheep & Wool – Bijou Basin’s Seraphim.

Ellen is working on Abria, a Bonne Marie Burnes or Chic Knit pattern, knitting it out of StraightFork Farm 60:40 huacayo:wool, on size 5 Signature circulars.  She’s on to the 3/4 length sleeves and hopes to finish the sweater just in time for heavy air-conditioning season.

Ellen is almost to the body on the baby Norwegian sweater, Geilo, from Dale of Norway.

Bitten by our Knittin’

Ellen’s is pretending that in her final stripe on her stole that she didn’t accidentally convert the 8×8 ribbing to 7×9 in one spot. You’ll never notice, right?

Jan reports that the thumb on one of her mitts for which the fit didn’t seem quite right, was actually just fine after blocking.

Ready to Wear

One of our group members, knittingdaddy, is proud to launch a new pattern, the Scrappy Sock Yarn Preemie Hat, that benefits the Family Support Network of Central Carolina. Check it out and support a good cause!

Design Principles

Swatch. Just do it and reap the benefits.

5 Minute Interview

Starring the The Savvy Girls!

360 Degrees

Other than a bit of conference call spinning on her mini Turkish spindle, Ellen hasn’t gotten much spinning done in all the activity of the last weeks. She did carry a spindle around one night.

Fiber Jargon

Ellen discusses the phase change behavior of Outlast(R) technology which is showing up in yarns like Mrs. Crosby Loves to Play Train Case.

Embellishments

Birding season is in swing, and Ellen is enjoying both eBird and Merlin.  Jan was reminded how much she likes iBird Backyard Plus3.

Fun Fur

Ellen and W are cracking up at old episodes of Star Trek. And Jan is enjoying the cute little llama that the Savvy Girls brought her from Maryland Sheep and Wool!

Slick Trick

Ellen suggests that one starts out to finish – when you know you will need to pick up stitches along a cast on edge, make the first row a plain knit row even if the pattern is lacy. It will be much easier to pick those stitches up.

Jan suggests using a Channel Island Cast-on followed by a row of k1,p1 ribbing to start Tunisian Crochet in the round. She likes not having to pick up stitches in a slip stitch chain, which can be fiddly.

You May Already be a Wiener

LauraKnitsPA won Judy Becker’s book Beyond Toes. But don’t despair, a new contest for Lara Neel‘s Craftsy Class, Socks My Way has started. And if you can’t wait to take the class, take advantage of the 50% off code Lara has graciously shared with us.

Fashion Forecast for 2015

Ellen  has plans to attend Shepherd’s Harvest. Jan has plans to dash to San Diego and back. And both twins have plans for summer.

And with summer comes TwinSet Summer Camp!  July 10-12, 2015.  Registration form can be found here:

https://app.box.com/files/0/f/0/1/f_26386300459

Registration fee of $265 ($240 if registration postmarked prior to April 30) includes:
A real bed for Friday and Saturday night!  With back-pampering Tempurpedic mattresses!
Meals served family style in the camp lodge, Friday supper through Sunday brunch. Special diets are well-looked after, please note requirements on registration form.
Lots of camp activities, like knitting by the river, knitting by the swimming pool, hiking into the woods to knit, singing campfire songs while knitting, making and eating s’mores (no knitting!), and more.  We hope to have some vendors, and we’ll schedule one knitting/craft class, but the name of the game for the weekend is relax in the woods, let someone else do the cooking, and knit and enjoy each other!

We hope to see you there.

Enjoy the show!

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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 33 — Retreat!!


In which we discuss our recent experiences at retreats (Ellen at the Knit-a-Journey Mid-Winter Retreat in Duluth, MN and Jan at Tina’s Fiber Retreat in York, PA), farm medical procedures from which several of the animals would like to have retreated, the dangers of knitting lace after the drams, the value of The Knitting Guild of America Master Knitter classes, the whimsical and classic designs of Ann Kelly, plying yards and yards of Corriedale Cross singles, a slick trick and some other stuff — to include a new spinner!

We are coming and going these days – just catching Jan after a fun weekend at Tina’s Fiber Retreat at Camp Donegal and Ellen is getting ready for some work travel.

The previous weekend, Ellen played with the gang at the Knitajourney Midwinter Retreat up in Duluth.  Wonderful company, wonderful food (if you are ever in Duluth, a visit to the New Scenic Cafe is a must; At Sarah’s Table ain’t bad, either), and wonderful yarn (Three Irish Girls, based in the area (Superior, WI to be specific), has Duluth colorways like Hawk Ridge) made for a wonderful weekend.  A Scotch tasting may have contributed to some people being bitten by their knittin’ later, but The Balvenie Doublewood, the Glennfiddich 12 years old, and the Bunnahabhain Islay single malt were highly enjoyable (even if Bevil thought the later tasted like sheep).

Jan spun up a storm – and so did her daughter, Marie, at Tina’s Fiber Retreat, a local tradition.  As always, in both cases, spending time with kindred spirits was the real highlight. The spinning included Jan’s test drive of roving made from her alpaca, Dipper’s, fleece, which we hope will soon available via Etsy.  She also got some knitting in – a bootsock out of a Skacel yarn (sorry, Jan, until you link the project I can’t figure out what yarn this was!) containing a variety of lovely fibers – wool, silk, nylon, alpaca, and even some angora.  She avoided the Second Sock Syndrome by knitting the 2nd sock first.  Hah!

Jan also worked on a second version of her Surface Tension hat, this one for Team Knitmore’s Halos of Hope efforts.  She continues to work on her Socks Previously Known as Hugs and Kisses.

Ellen has the usual on her runway – Limpid which is her version of Martina Behm’s Lintilla , Forever in the Forest , and her nascent sock design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.   Forever in the Forest bit her, but really can’t be blamed as Ellen was working on lace late at night and after the aforementioned Scotch tasting.

And in a case where the knittin’ was bitten, Ellen reported that after almost 4 years of hard wear, she wore a hole in the thumb of her Springtime Sugarplums gloves knit out of Socks that Rock Mediumweight from Blue Moons Fiber Arts.  It is amazing how close in color the replacement thumb is – that is a good dye job!

Jan and Ellen discussed how the rigor and detailed curriculum of the TKGA Master Knitter program is both a bit maddening and really advances your skills.  They recommend jumping in whatever level you are at – the earlier in your knitting career that you do, the more you’ll learn, but you’ll learn something no matter how experienced you are.

Featured designer for this episode is Ann McDonald Kelly, whose Monkey Balls ornament amused Jan no end.  Other lovely patterns in her collection include the Houndstooth Tank and the Kelmscott Throw, among many.  Jan thinks a Nexo Jacket, which is a free pattern that uses mosaic knitting to excellent effect, may be in her future.

Jan shared her spinning during Patterns of our Lives, but Ellen had some content to share.  She has finished one bump of the BFL in the Sled Dog colorway using her Turkish Spindle from Jenkins Spindles, and plans to use a Golding spindle for the second bump.  But first, she wants to continue the great start she has on her CorriedaleX singles.

While on the topic of plying up skeins, Jan clarified the Fiber Jargon of skein, hank, and ball.  Technically, a loop of yarn tied in several places is not a skein, it is a hank, but even Jan agreed that modern use includes skein for this purpose.  A ball is clearly something else – yarn wound into a ball shaped (or cake shaped!) object.  Jan mentioned that you wouldn’t eat that cake from a roving plate, yet one more way fiber is put up for sale, in this case, a large shallow cake of roving.

Check out donniestatzer’s tip for accurate button placement on fine gauge knits, this episodes Slick Trick.
The Living Doll contest is proceeding with some wonderful descriptions of the living dolls our listeners would like to knit up out of the new e-book from Susan B. Anderson.  Check out “Mary, Millie and Morgan“to learn how to knit your own doll.

Enjoy the show!

Episode 32 — A Living Doll

In which for some unknown reason we sound muffled. (I did have a stuffy nose and sinuses, but Ellen was healthy so that’s not the reason and I processed the file in the same manner, so that’s not the reason.  Urgh! Sometimes this podcasting stuff is hard!  Well, you can still understand us, so you’re getting it as it is.)  And in which we discuss the cold (maybe that’s it, we were wrapped in scarves and mufflers?), haunted barns (maybe a ghost is choking us?), idea weekends with ideas that Ellen can’t share or she’d have to kill us (maybe she was smothering us with pillows?, but why would she smother herself?), a trip to DC with a stop at a new to me yarn shop (maybe I’m buried in yarn and fiber?), spinning and handling alpaca at the PA Farm Show (maybe an alpaca is sitting on us?), grilled cheese and tomato soup (maybe our mouths are full?), and Susan B. Anderson’s new e-book, “Mary, Millie and Morgan” (that’s it, those dolls are so cute you want to gobble them up…our mouths ARE full!).

We love the comments we get from listeners, especially the ones that make us laugh, like Alison’s on the last episode.  You can find more of her pun-ishing humor at SpinDyeKnit.

And you can find the Mary Lou Egan patterns that Ellen’s been enjoying tech editing on Ravelry – Miss Gulch is a textured cowl and Swales Hat is a textured hat.  Both are quick and fun knits!

Jan found plenty to do at the PA Farm Show, and then she found more fun at Black Sheep Yarns in Cockeysville, MD.  Check that website out – gorgeous shop!
Despite challenges with the on-line registration (the tubes of the innernets seemed to have been plugged up, probably with felted fiber from someone who didn’t wash their Felfs in a pillow case), Ellen did get signed up for the Designing Tesselations class by Franklin Habit at Yarnover which will be on April 26 at Hopkins High School, just a few miles west of downtown Minneapolis.  That same weekend, she plans to take part in FiberFest at Steven Be’s.  She’ll be lucky if she doesn’t get clogged up with fiber! (She hopes if she is, some of it will be the luscious mink yarn from Grinning Gargoyle.) And she’s hoping Jennie the Potter will be there, too. And Wendy J Johnson of Saga Hill Designs with all her fibers and dyes – and her new book, Yarn Works.  Yes, Ellen is glad she only has one class so she will have lots of time to browse the marketplace.

It’s not like either twin needs more yarn.  Though they have been knitting up some stash – Ellen has been continuing progress on her Forever in the Forest stole out of Misti Alpaca lace weight and based on the Forest Path Stole by Faina M. Letoutchaia.  Ellen is also working on a Martina Behm pattern, Lintilla in Rohrspatz & Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash in the colorway Skarabäus, which is brilliant clear and limpid blues and greens with streaks of yellow, hence the name of her shawl, Limpid.  And, for variety, Ellen has been designing a pair of socks out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.

Jan  worked on her Fog Lights sweater; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson.  She is working on another pair of Hugs and Kisses Socks and promises a pattern, if she can figure out a name.  And she’s working on a hat featuring Jagger Spun 100% wool and an eye of partridge pattern.  She’s calling it Surface Tension and promises a pattern soon.  More Felfs are on the way, too!

We encourage you to take inspiration from the 2014 Intentions thread on our Ravelry group – you listeners are writing some really good stuff!
The new e-book from Susan B. Anderson is good stuff, too.  Check out “Mary, Millie and Morgan” – you won’t be able to resist dreaming about who you’d knit up as a doll.
Jan is still dreaming about spinning up Briar Rose – or at least, her lovely fleece.  (She is an alpaca friend of Jan’s.)  Ellen is dreaming of spinning up some Briar Rose, too – she has several bumps of BFL dyed by Chris at Briar Rose Fibers that should hit the wheel one of these days!

That’s it for now – enjoy the show!

Episode 30 — We Believe!


In which we discuss the return of the light (and the owls), ice lanterns, the great Weaver’s Guild of Minnesota fiber estate sale, finally receiving processed fiber from the spring shearing, Christmas visits, what’s in Ellen’s pocketses, the best Christmas card ever,  seeing Santa Claus, publication of Ellen’s pattern “Bitsy Baby Beanies”, successful design modifications and a winner of the Swagger DALKAL, some knitting and spinning and Ellen endures Jan’s singing.

“Come Enhance My Yarn Stash Tonight”
Lyrics (c) Jan Hamby — Free use for non-commercial and personal uses.  Rights to publication reserved.
Instrumental background from the Helen Kane audio recording found in the U.S. National Archives licensed under the Creative Commons. 

Santa Baby, slip some cashmere under the tree, For me.
I’ve been an awfully good girl, Santa baby,
so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Santa baby, some signature convertibles too,
Size 2.
I’ll wait up for you dear,
Santa baby, so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Think of all the things that I might’ve knit,
Hats and scarves and sweaters and fingerless mitts,
Next year I could reduce my queue,
And maybe you’ll find, you’re knitworthy too,

Santa baby, I wanna Schacht,
And really that’s not a lot,
Been an angel all year,
Santa baby, so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Santa honey, there’s one thing I really do need,
The deed
To a local yarn store,
Santa honey, so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Santa cutie, fill my stocking with some rolags,
And project bags   .
Skeins of handpainted too,
Santa cutie, come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Come and trim my Christmas tree,
With lots of pretty stitch markers bought just for me,
I really do believe in you,
Let’s see if you believe in me too,

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing,
Roving.
I don’t mean wandering round,
Santa baby, so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.,
so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.,
Yarn stash, tonight.

Ellen reported on the stupendous estate sale held at the Weaver’s Guild of MN.  She didn’t buy much, but she did bring home a gorgeous supported Tibetan spindle made by Spindlewood Co.  She baked the few skeins of yarn she bought in her oven warming drawer (temps above 140-160F for several hours will ensure that no clothes moths survive).

Jan brought home fiber from Gurdy Run Farm and Woolen Mill – alpaca from her own alpaca’s fleeces.

Lots of cookie baking going on, including cookies that Ellen’s daughter Jenny created for Red Rooster Harlem.  Ellen’s other daughter, Karen’s, first authorship  on magnesium sulfate and cerebral palsy prevention in pregnancy wasn’t as recent as Ellen had thought – but Ellen is still proud.

Jan tries to convince Santa, Baby to enhance her yarn stash right around minute 15:15.

In On the Runway, Ellen worked on her Forever in the Forest stole and Jan had Dale’s linen stitch scarf as monogamous knitting.

Ellen finished up Chunkeanie, a reverse stockinette beanie by Wooly Wormhead, knit in Kashmir Aran. Also out of Kashmir Aran, she knit up Entrechat by Lisa Chernery.  She used the Knitters Pride Karbonz dpns in size 8, liked the feel of these needles but found them noisy and clinky. And she finally finished her Fat Soled Felfs.  The double weight soles felted a bit less than the single weight uppers, resulting in very pointy toes and heels – very elvish.  And very good fitting! These were out of Ewetopia, and it felted beautifully.  She dried her Felfs in her warming drawer!

Ellen got a pattern up for sale in 2013!  Bitsy Baby Beanies is a quick stockinette beanie with a wide ribbed edge and simple to execute 4-point decrease.  Listen to the episode to find the code for a free copy through January.

After discussing the design principles used in creating Bitsy Baby Beanies, we challenge our listeners to give thought to their design for 2014.

Jan finished up her cabled yarn, and Ellen added a few more bobbins of CorriedaleX singles to her collection.  She reported 19 bobbins (but a later count gave 20) with over a pound of fiber left.  Spindling on a Kuchulu (Jenkins Spindles) during conference calls gave her about 250 yards of fine laceweight yarn in the last few months, and she also continued spinning on her Lark for a heavier weight yarn.

Both twins agree – a niddy noddy is a useful tool for spinners and knitters alike.

Jan loves her embellishment for the week – the Brother P-Touch label maker.

Ellen discovered that dishcloths made out of Bernat Tizzy is a great way to find a scrubby in a sink of dirty dishwater.

Ellen’s slick trick was the slipped stitch edge in the Entrechat sweater by Lisa Chernery.  Instead of the way Ellen had originally learned, Lisa had the knitter slip the last stitch of a row and knit the first.  Jan’s trick makes linen stitch easier to knit.  She simply always works from the knit side, doing this either by clipping her yarn with about a 6″ end at the end of the row and sliding (on a circular needle) back to the start of the row to work the next row.  The tails at either end make a ready made fringe.  For working in the round, steek stitches can be added that can then be unraveled to create fringe after the steek is cut.

In the DALKAL, woolybear368 aka Mary, from Massachusetts, won for her Keyhole Swagger.  She converted a buttonhole scarf out of a bulky yarn.

Better blogger, even better buttonhole…

Dear Jan,

I know you find it shocking that I am actually posting to the blog two weeks in a row.  Considering that I have a strong closure impulse, and to really close out on the story of my Blue Moons cardigan I needed to live up to my promise for a tutorial on dropping back to add buttonholes, you shouldn’t be all that surprised.  (Of course, given my recent history of posting, I guess maybe you should be!)

Recall that I had knit Blue Moons, my version of the Veronik Avery Forestry cardigan,  with a lot of dithering about whether I wanted buttons or not.  I’d actually knit most of the front band when I did an about face and decided I wanted to use buttons and buttonholes for a double-breasted jacket.  That front band went from bottom right, around a very deep shawl collar, and down to the lower left – long rows that I’d need to frog and re-knit in order to knit those buttonholes in the right places.   With only 8 rows to drop back (unlike for the missed cable cross in my previous post), I preferred to wrangle dropped stitches than slog through all that knitting again.

I used the buttonhole described in a Knitting Daily tutorial for 2×2 ribbing.  After marking the stitch to the right of the buttonhole, I dropped back the 4 columns required. I had all the stitches for the band on a long circular and had adjusted the needle opening to be right at the buttonhole before I started, so I could use the left needle tip to hold onto those 4 lives stitches.

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Starting on the right side of the work, I used the first long bar of yarn (be careful – don’t pick them up out of the original order in which they were knit) to work an SSK in the first two stitches, then a double yarnover, then K2tog.  It still looks like 4 stitches, but the middle two are that double yarnover.

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After flipping the sweater over so I now had the wrong side facing me, I picked up the next loose bar (again, careful about the order!) and purled two stitches together, did another double yarnover, and then did a slip slip purl.  Yes, this left my double yarnover from the first row dangling.  Flipping the sweater again,  I now worked one knit stitch, (following the ribbing pattern), a knit stitch into the first yarnover (catching the dangling yarn), and a purl stitch into the second yarn over (again, catch that dangler) and end with a knit one.

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From here on out I just worked in pattern to use up the other dropped bars of yarn.  It worked out really slick, and a side benefit was it let me get the entire buttonhole worked in one concentrated space of time rather than having long stretches of band knitting in between steps.
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It didn’t keep me from having long spans of time between blog posts, but maybe I’ve reversed that trend.

Love,

Ellen

Oh, rat’s nest!

Dear Jan,

After our wild weekend of wool, I settled in for a quiet spin last night.  I filled most of a bobbin before a small calamity arose – a lost end, gone in the wooliness that is my woolen spun Columbia fleece.

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Happily, I had a bit of a lifeline.  I don’t recall where I saw this tip, but I’m glad I did see it and put it into practice.  I fill my bobbins from one end to the other, and rather than work my way back to the other end of the bobbin, I move immediately to the far end and work my way back.  See what happens?  You get a strand of yarn running roughly perpendicular across the wound singles upon which you wind your next course.

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And when you permanently lose an end, you never have to cut back more than to that perpendicular thread.  I barely lost any at all here.

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One more storage bobbin filled, and disaster averted.

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I hope you enjoy your Brenda Dane class tonight, and that you report on it soon!

Love,

Ellen

Not Just Kidding Around

Dear Ellen,

april-20121.jpgI’m bushed!  We’ve managed to cram 3 days into 2 again.  I should sleep well tonight!

dsc04510.JPGThe pups took it a little easier.  Max lolled about on the porch.

dsc04515.JPGRuby found a nice cool spot in the shade of the wall.  All the while I was working in the garden which I am happy to say is all in except for some plants that are yet to be…the seeds are planted in a seed starter.  They should be ready for planting by June.

dsc04492.JPGDale was preparing the ground for receipt of his new gazebo.  Never let your husband go to a mud sale alone.  Yes, these two facts are related.  It will be delivered on this coming Saturday.  Once in place we’ll decide if we want to paint it or just stain it.  The plan is to surround it with rose bushes and put flowering vines at the base of each pillar.  Should be lovely come wedding time.

dsc04512.JPGAnother new home builder took residence next door.  This little black capped chickadee has a nest inside the birdhouse that Chris and Jim gave us for Christmas.

dsc04503.JPGI also accomplished a few things in the knitting world.  The Aloha Onesie is finally done — though I still need to wrap it and get it on its way to Hawaii.

dsc04504.JPGI think I found the perfect buttons for the blue and white cotton yarn.

dsc04505.JPGAnd the snaps at the crotch worked well too.  I redid many parts of this, so it ended up taking far longer than I expected, but I’m glad I took the time.  Next time I do the pattern (which I do like a lot), I’ll be armed with the modifications I made…if I actually put them in my project page instead of just counting on remembering them.

lemony-dishcloth.jpgI also knocked out a quick dishcloth.  (We really needed one!)  It’s a simple eyelet pattern broken up by garter ridges.  The ridges are in yellow and the pattern in a color called creamsicle.  I was amused that they gave 3 different languages for yellow on the ballband, only two for creamsicle.  The first in english and the second — who knows, it said creamsicle too, but was Italicized.  Do you think they think Italian might just be italics?  Take a look at the lower left corner.  I have noticed that using the Neatby bind off method tends to cause the bind off to lean forwards.  It makes sense given the method.  I’ve also noticed that when using it to bind off in purl it leans backwards.  So, I decide to try to alternate knit and purl bind offs to see what would happen.  The 3 stitches on the right were all bound off knitwise.  The 3 stitches on the left were bound off alternating knitwise and purlwise.  I like the way they line up right on the edge and now that I’ve tried this on a dishcloth will do it on other projects too!

dsc04483.JPGLast, I’ve got 4 ounces of a wonderful suri alpaca/merino/silk blend waiting patiently on a bobbin.  It’s waiting for me to spin the other 8 ounces that I have.  Dale is working on making me a bobbin winder for use with weaving bobbins.  He also came home from the mud sale with 3 old sewing machines so he can use the motors and presser foot controllers.  Should be slick.

dsc04495.JPGI’m going to sign off now — still too many things to do before bed!  No kidding!

Love, Jan

I would have planted peas for St. Paddy’s day…

Dear Jan,

Remember how Mom used to try to get peas and potatoes planted for St. Patrick’s Day?  Well, I thought I might do that this year as it has been unusually warm and the frost is out of the ground, but I think I missed my chance.  They are a cool weather crop, and it is already in the 80’s here in Minnesota.  Heck, the Iditarod isn’t even quite over (as I write this, three mushers and their teams remain on the trail) and we are wearing shorts in Minnetonka.  I, for one, am a little scared of carbon dioxide.

My concerns haven’t stopped me from enjoying the warmth.  We headed down to the U of MN Landscape Arboretum for a day of hiking with our friends Gary and Sharon.  Not expecting much beyond bare limbs and leftover leaves from last fall, we were delighted by the variety of buds in a state of rapid expansion.  Flowers won’t be far behind (the maples are already in bloom).

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We were delighted to have a mourning cloak butterfly join us, though he quickly left when another of his own species fluttered by.  I know what they have on their mind!

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Even nicer was spotting a male bluebird…

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…and then his mate.  We saw them flutter in and out of a bluebird house, so I know what is on their mind, too!

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We did see some snow in piles in deep shade and there is still ice in the lakes, and plenty of snowdrops.  They look so simple from above, but tip up their blossom and it is a lovely, complex bloom.

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I don’t think I’ve ever hiked in a T-shirt to see snowdrops.

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We got home in time for me to finish my Iknitarod project while there were still four mushers who had yet to make it to Nome.  I made the Knit Vested and Stylish vest,  a free Red Heart pattern.

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I don’t like to bash free patterns, because, after all, they are free, but this was a case of you get what you pay for.  The pattern left many details out – I could figure my way around them, but a less experienced knitter may have had trouble.  Things like specifying what decreases and increases to use, how to make them symmetrical (and in a worsted weight, it would have been noticeable if you didn’t make them symmetrical), poor description of mitering the points, no description of how to pick up the right number of stitches…  and on and on.  The design had weaknesses, too.  For one, the attached back belt is done in garter of worsted weight yarn, pretty clunky if you ask me.  I wasn’t going to live with that.

img_0864.JPGInstead, I made a 2-ply yarn from the 4-ply Cascade 220 used for the vest.  First, I reversed the final twist on my wheel until the plies were no longer twisted together.   This took a few tries to get it right – I simply pulled the yarn off the bobbin and wound it on my hand then ran it back into the wheel with the appropriate twist to adjust until it was perfect.

I then separated the plies, running two to a bobbin winder and wrapping two on my hand.

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Next, figure out how much twist to put back in and get a reasonably balanced yarn.  How to discover the right twist?  Water – it releases the set twist of the fiber and lets it relax to where it wants to be.

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The damp two ply next to some that had not gotten a bath gives me guidance on how much twist to put back into the two ply yarn.

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I plied it on my wheel, and then knit these little bits right off the bobbin.  That was convenient, as it let me put a bit more twist in as needed.

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I was quite happy with the weight and look of the little belt.  That extra effort almost always pays off!

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A day in the sun, the last push to finish the vest, and even some spinning leaves me ready to make the effort to get to bed early.  I hope your day was as full and productive as mine was!

Love,

Ellen