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

Archive for April, 2010

Running on fumes…

As older sister, Jan has bossed me around given me the opportunity to be blogmeister for the last two days of yarn revelry.  Today was packed again – Yarnover was fast and frenetic.  Get to class!  Knit swatches! Take bathroom break!  Sneak to market during bathroom break!  Buy cashmere fiber! Go to class!  Finish that swatch!

35.jpgIn all the craziness we managed to have two lovely classes, one on increases and decreases with Judy Pascale.  She is a dynamic and passionate lady who really ran us through our paces.  That 3-hour class was crammed with more techniques than I’ve gotten in day-long classes.  Judy later joined us for lunch.  I was a little relieved that she didn’t make us try eating our sandwiches three different ways, just to see which way suited each of us individually.  Lisa and Deb connected with us, too, so I got to eat with three of my favorite knitters (that is my preferred way to eat a sandwich).

25.jpgWe crossed paths with The Rainey Sisters.  Sally also travelled from DC to attend.  Maybe next year they can charter a flight for all sisters coming out for Yarnover.


54.jpgThe afternoon was Hallelujah Grafting! with Lucy Neatby.  I am so glad we have 3 classes with Lucy.  She is such a prepared teacher and her methods for teaching are crystal clear. I can now close a sock toe with grafting without leaving little piggy ears.  Hallelujah! (Note: We found Cat’s other shoe.)

19.jpg44.jpg The marketplace is half the reason to attend Yarnover.  I had fun seeing friends like Jennie the Potter, Chris from Briar Rose, and Aimee from Darn. Knit. Anyway. But no one does the market like the Yarn Garage in their Yarn Mechanics jumpsuits.  Jessie looks pretty in anything, and Tim and Steven were just too cute.

63.jpg92.jpgSteven and the YG gang ended the evening for us with a lovely knit-in that brought together young and old, hip and arthritic hipped, experienced and newbie knitters.  Great music, great food, and knitting were wonderful ways to decompress from a loaded day.  I got to connect with Melissa, one of the YG team and also a Bohus knitter with whom I’d conversed on Ravelry!

73.jpgWe couldn’t go home until Jan finished her charity hat.  The YG donated yarn to all the Yarnover attendees to knit hats for donation.  Jan, always an over-achiever, was probably the first to turn hers in.  (I believe she removed the dpns before handing it over.)

My hat is only half done, but with a full day ahead of us tomorrow, it is not getting finished tonight.

Good night, all!

Teachers’ pets…

Jan, we can’t take long on this post – I still have to finish my swatches for tomorrow’s classes!

Well, Ellen, if you had done your homework earlier, you wouldn’t be in this fix.  Mine are already done.

Yeah, and mom always loved you best, too.  (Tough love!)  But that’s ok, after the fun today I can get over that.

17.jpgIt was a lot of fun today.  Sorry I missed the first half of Lucy Neatby’s Short Row Wizardry class. (Thanks, Delta.  What do you mean you had to go hunt for a replacement tire???!)  At least I caught the exciting ending.  I no longer look at short rows as basic pains in the *ss.  They really have utility and the Japanese method is slick!


24.jpg34.jpg43.jpgI really like the Modified Conventional bind off she taught.  Knit one, slide the stitch back onto the left hand needle, and without removing the right tip, slip it into the next stitch just like normal.  Then knit them both right off the needle!  So quick, so smooth.

53.jpgThat it keeps the bind-off loose was an added bonus, as was meeting Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen over at StevenBe’s.  


72.jpg62.jpg82.jpgIndeed.  But the real fun was Cookie A, such a delightful sense of humor.  And what a great collection of socks! (Steven right in the middle!)  I appreciated how willing she was to just chat with everyone in the class.  And I feel more confident about designing my own cables and stitch patterns after her class.

Me too.

18.jpgAnd – don’t forget the handsome men wearing knitwear. Stephen West – predicted to be the next Jared Flood on the right, Tim – Junior Fiber Executive on the left.  We’re all wearing Stephen’s designs.)  Bonus!  Disclaimer: Neither as handsome or wonderful to me as W, but W doesn’t design as much knitwear, truth be told.

Hey –  What about Jessie?  She was so busy running around the shop making everyone happy today that we didn’t catch a photo of her.  We’ll amend that tomorrow.

Speaking of which, I still have to go get my swatches done.

Did I mention that I have mine finished?

Starting out at a blistering pace…

42.jpg…but luckily, knitting up nice soft socks to wear over those blisters.

Dear Jan,

14.jpgI spent the first day of my knitathon at a Cat Bordhi workshop on New Pathways for Sock Knitters. She is a great teacher, full of silly mneumonics  for remembering techniques (wrapped stitches become ladies going to the opera, needles talk to fingers, increases in toes are olives on a pizza) and with a wonderful, whimsical sense of humor.  Here are the shoes she was wearing – we might see the matching set on Lucy Neatby later this weekend!

23.jpgCat is full of energy to keep an all-day class buzzing along.  Suddenly it was 4:00 and my brain was jelly, but I had completed a finger sock, as modeled by my table buddies, Roxanne and Wendy.  Roxanne writes the Ask A Knitter column on Ravelry – and they asked her to do that for good reason.  She really knows her stuff.  And Wendy is a sharp knitter, too, and was wonderful company.

33.jpgYou are going to enjoy Cat on Saturday morning, I’m sure.  Any of you readers out there who are in the Twin Cities area, I highly recommend you make it to Hopkins High School by 8:15 a.m. on Saturday the 17th and catch Cat’s keynote speech for all of $5.  Of course, you won’t get out of the marketplace without buying something, so perhaps you should allot a bigger budget than that.

15.jpgThe workshop was put on by Needlework Unlimited, generous hosts who left us with a swell swag bag.  Many wonderful things, but the one that really caught everyone’s eye was the Itty Bitty Scissors, the little orange handled mite in the center right of the photo.  So cute!  Yet so functional!  It comes with a cord that you can use to make it into a cell phone charm.  Yes, it is that tiny.

16.jpgThe day couldn’t have come to a nicer close – dinner with Susanna Hansson, in which we had a wonderful discussion of mental and physical geography while eating smoked tofu, cumin lamb, eggplant with garlic and several other yums.  I adore Susanna and we had such a good time.  Of course, I didn’t take a photo (will try to amend that on Saturday when I introduce you), but here is a picture* that captures the essence of Susanna.  High standards, high intelligence, exquisite taste, all wrapped up in Bohus!

As of tomorrow, you have to help me write the posts.  See you in a few hours!!


*Add generous to that description of Susanna.  She brought it from Sweden as a gift for me!

35 Feet of Separation

Dear Ellen,

uso-28th-annual-awards-dinner.jpgA long day today, capped off by the USO Metro DC Annual Gala Awards Dinner.  At this event real heroes are recognized — heroes like Tammy Duckworth, the former Army helicopter pilot and double amputee who is now the Assistant Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs…heroes like Colonel Gordon Roberts, Medal of Honor winner and holder of two silver stars…heroes like 4 enlisted men all with purple hearts who have fought back from catastrophic injury and who now volunteer to help others…and heroes like Michael and Kevin Bacon (shown with USO Metro President Elaine Rogers) who have donated tremendous amounts of their wealth, talent and time to USO efforts.  We were very fortunate to be on the guest list along with people like General Jim Jones, the National Security Advisor to POTUS, ADM Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ADM Thad Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard and many other senior military, government and community figures.  My chair was about 35 feet from Kevin’s.  I think that counts to bring me down to one degree, don’t you?

Love, Jan

Bonus! Dr. Yarn responds to reader demand for more Dr. Yarn!

Dear Jan,

When Dr. Yarn received a question pitched from “twinsetjan”, he knew it was a high priority and stepped up to the plate.  I  believe he has knocked it out of the park.*

From Dr. Yarn:

The questions have been pouring in; however, I have moved this question to the head of the list because of its importance.

Q. A “friend of mine” is feeling tempted to try spinning.  It seems knitting hasn’t consumed every second of her life and all her peers are experimenting with this mainlining variant of fiber habits.  My question: “Is knitting just a gateway drug that inevitably leads misguided fiber artists to the hard stuff?”  I hope you can help.  Of course, your usual rates will apply.

With regards, twinsetjan

spinner.jpgA.  If this is really a friend of yours, you must step in immediately. Case studies in my book, “Problem Knitters or Off the Deep End,” clearly establish disastrous outcomes. The warning signs are obvious. To help you, here are some things to look for: weight loss, graying hair, escape gardening, eating foreign food, visiting yarn shops while allegedly on business trips, secretly stockpiling yarn and wool, purchasing spinning equipment, putting spinning before the “Final Four” or even the “Super Bowl,” and avoiding many of the excellent sitcoms on evening TV.

The worst-case scenario is your friend may have to go into fiber artist’s rehab. Most people don’t realize several presidents’ wives got started on spinning and ended up in rehab. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand the real reason that many college football players end up on hard stuff is because their coaches insist that they spend some time each day spinning instead of studying and working out in the weight room.

I hope this helps and thanks for this question that may help true friends of all top-level knitters.

During these troubled times I am waiving my usual fee for all military personnel. This is in honor of my service in the 1st Cavalry Division– in the Gerry Own regiment to be exact. As  military historians will recollect, this unit was wiped out in the Battle of Little Big Horn. Custer was spinning while the yarn burned.  But I digress.
Dr. Yarn

*I must be more influenced by the Twin’s  first day in their new outdoor ballpark – lovely warm breezes and sunshine and a convincing win.

They Grow Up So Fast

Dear Ellen,

It’s hard to believe that it’s already bedtime.  The weekend went so quickly.  But it was a very good weekend…filled with sleep, knitting and some socially redeeming activity — that also involved knitting.

dscn2846.JPGdscn2852.JPGdscn2847.JPGdscn2845.JPGI finished knitting Casual Traveler.  Almost 62 inches wide, it has increases on every row so that it’s not as deep as a triangular shawl.  It’s the Traveling Woman pattern from Liz Abinante.  I finished it with less than one skein of Austermann Step in a colorway that would go well with jeans and a T-shirt.  You may get to see it in 5 days.

dscn2842.JPGdscn2840.JPGdscn2838.JPGdscn2839.JPGIdscn2841.JPG also finished a beret to be donated to someone suffering from cancer.  It joined a dozen other berets, all knit at an event hosted at Fibre Space.  We all cast on at the same time and knit away as quickly as we could.  The winner got gift certificates for the store and from a local restaurant.  Registration fees went to the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer.  Fun and fulfilling.  Michelle is modeling my finished beret.  She’s doing the two day walk and helped put together the event today.

dscn2833.JPGdscn2834.JPGI also did a very quick little baby bib for the new baby of one of Dale’s co-workers.  Very simple — cast on 59 stitches, on right side rows knit to 1 stitch before center stitch, work 3-stitch centered decrease, knit to end.  On wrong side rows, purl to center stitch, slip center stitch, purl to end.   Knit 3 ridges of garter stitch when you’ve reduced total number of stitches to 17 or 19 as you wish (about 3 inches wide).  Bind off.  Working from bottom to top, work a 4 stitch applied i-cord adding about 12 inches of regular 4 stitch i-cord when you reach the top.  Draw up the last four stitches.  Weave in ends.  I used Brunswick Yarns Crafty Cotton, but Sugar and Spice, Peaches and Cream, or any of the 100% cotton yarns would work.

dscn2821.JPGdscn2843.JPGFinally, the baby doves are flying.  I’ve seen them return to the nest a few times…and Mom still  hangs out there, but she is also spending more time away.

Well, I’ve got to pack my lunch…and get to bed.  Later this week I’ll be packing my bag!

Love, Jan

Plying catch up…

Hey, Jan,

Look!  Real fiber content!

13.jpg32.jpg22.jpg41.jpgI took my first stab at 3-ply yarn on the worsted singles I’ve spent the last week spinning.  In order:  Singles, plying set up (had to use one center pull ball due to bobbin shortage), how I’m holding the singles, 3-ply yarn on the bobbin.

71.jpg81.jpg91.jpgThough I tried to divide the fiber (pencil roving) into 3 equal lengths to spin, what a surprise, the bobbins did NOT hold equal lengths of singles.  The first one was quite a bit shorter, so I have about 92 yds of 3-ply, 36 yds of 2-ply (which is my favorite), and then with the little bit left on one bobbin, all of about 2 yards of Navajo plied 3-ply.  The fiber for all of these was Schoppelwolle Fingerwolie pencil roving, 100% merino.

61.jpgI have so much left to learn, which is good, because that is what is so much fun about this.  But I’ve also come a long way, I think, which is also fun.  Here is my wheel-spinning progression, left to right:  very first time in front of a wheel, week 2, weeks 3-4.  The brown is woolen or semi-woolen spun and the blue is worsted spun.

52.jpgOn to the next fiber – woolen spun from a batt with a focus on learning the long draw.  Fun, fun, fun.  Maybe not as fun as this coming weekend, but fun, fun, fun all the same.



Playing catch up…

Hi, Jan,

This week went fast!  I have to capture some of the week’s knitting fun before I get on with the weekend.

12.jpgI didn’t abuse my knitting group members with photos on Monday, but when Cinder sighed her relief and jumped up in her place on the couch when one knitter left, I had to grab a shot.  She was so patient about giving up prime real estate for the knitting cause.  I pick up my CSA share at Cinder’s house and she always comes out to see me, so she is an especial favorite.

21.jpgLeaving that evening, I caught the first magnolia of the season just opening up.  Spring is crazy early this year – ice out on lakes clear up into the Boundary Waters.  At least it brings magnolias, but I hope nothing blooms so early that it gets frost-nipped.  Especially things like pie cherries!

31.jpgFinally, I barely settled into my waiting room knitting when Jonica called me back for my haircut.  Time to get rid of it all so I can be a serious athlete this summer.  Or at least not have the excuse of “oh, I’ll have to wash my hair if I work out” as a disincentive from being an occasional athlete.

I guess that really wasn’t much knitting.  But it did clear the pipes for knitting to come – more later!



Just in time…

Dear Jan,

5.jpgI know it’s out there, that last snowfall of the year.  Well, I’ve got brand-spankin’ new gloves to wear in it, whenever it gets here.  Knit out of Socks that Rock Mediumweight, colorway Sugarplums, in an original design with a few fun features for extremely good fit.  I call them “Springtime Sugarplum” in honor of the colorway name but acknowledging that they look like tulips in bloom to me.


The fabric is very densely knit on size 0 needles, kind of a stretch for STR mediumweight (suggested needle size is US 1.5 to 2.5).  I was afraid it was too stiff until I blocked it, but now it is pliable but thick.  It will stand up to Minnesota winters.

6.jpg7.jpgAnd the fit is snug.  I knit and reknit the first glove until it fit like, well, a glove.  I added features that add flexibility in this densely knit and snuggly fit item.  My favorites:  a mini-top of thumb axillary gusset, slight decrease along the thumb side of the hand to create a fold of fabric for that fold of flesh between your thumb and hand, and provisional cast on and pick up between the fingers, with a one-stitch wide bridge added between fingers for even more flexibility.

 4.jpgOf course they have asymmetrical thumbs.  All of this will get written up when I devise a more general pattern rather than one that is perfectly fit to my hand.

10.jpgMy Rimfrost sweater progresses.  I’ve finished the yoke and am eagerly anticipating getting to the point where I am working in the round.  I won’t post often on this one – it will get tedious looking at all the beige stockinette.  Fun knitting for reading, but not for blogging.

11.jpgAnd, my new addiction got some attention this week, too.  I have about 300 yds of a Dark Blue-faced Leicester woolen spun yarn, maybe a dk or light worsted weight.  I haven’t fulled it yet, am deciding whether to knit it first then full the garment or do the yarn first.  I am very happy with it.

2.jpgTrying not to cement any habits too early in my spinning career, I am now spinning my next yarn worsted.  This is a 100% merino from a pencil roving – what a joy to sit and spin without any thought for fiber prep.

No time left for more, if I’m going to get a little more knitting fun in before the work week starts.



*axil: from botany, the upper angle between an organ, i.e. leaf stalk (or in this case, thumb) and the stem (wrist) that bears it.

Knitting Notes

Dear Ellen,

dscn2825.JPGMy office is still a wreck, but I’ve taken care of a number of chores this afternoon and feel like I can go spend the rest of the evening knitting without guilt.  What shall I be working on?  Well, it will be my Casual Traveler (the Traveling Woman shawlette), Not So Naive (the Ingenue sweater) or Sea Glass (the Hanami stole).  dscn2824.JPGdscn2827.JPGOr all three! I’ve actually knit on each of them lately…and tried on Not So Naive.  The photo is blurry (I’m not so great at that reflective photography, I guess), but the fit is great.  Casual Traveler is knitting up VERY quickly and may end up as a gift for my executive assistant.  Do you like the artistic touch of the cherry blossoms on Sea Glass?

Love, Jan