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

Archive for October, 2010


Update on 3 fronts…

Dear Jan,

35.jpgYesterday’s post was all about the spinning, but we’re also getting through some knitting here.  Last night I wove in the ends on a cap for Anya, whose parents sent me their llamas’ fleeces via my MIL earlier in the summer.  With matching mittens, she will be set for winter in West Virginia.

17.jpgThe kittens, of course, kept a close eye on me as I got these done.  I’ve trained them pretty well to curl up in my lap while I knit (versus play with the yarn and needles – they get one reminder to quit and if they keep it up, off the lap they go).  They trained themselves to curl up in my lap while I work at the computer.  Here is their preferred position.  I’m sure the weight of their heads on  my forearm isn’t actually good for any repetitive motion injuries I may incur at the keyboard, but they make up for it with their stress-relieving purrs.

24.jpgAmidst the knittin’s and the kittens, a bit more spinning got started.  It’s fun to have a little color after all that grey.  I’m spinning up 4 oz of carded batts from Gone Batty Fibers.  The fiber, in colorway Frog Pond is quite the mix – Corriedale, Shetland, Merino, silk, Firestar, and nylon.   There are a few nepps (little bits of tangled fiber) that I’m trying to pull out as I go, but overall the fiber drafts very nicely and I’m enjoying seeing the variety of fibers progress through the fine singles.  I’m spinning semi-worsted in that I am using carded fiber, more typically a woolen preparation, but am drafting it in a classic worsted manner.*  The result is nice sleek singles intended for a 3-ply sock yarn.

The rest of the day needs to be focused on getting ready for our big trip to the Big Island.  I suspect a few more yards will be spun, a few more stitches knit, and yes, a few more kittens petted during the course of the day, too.

Love,

Ellen

*By this I mean I am pulling out the fibers from the supply between pinched fingers, aligning them in as near parallel a fashion as possible.  I keep my fingers pinched in front of these aligned fibers, then slide my pinch back towards me, allowing the twist to enter the fiber in an orderly manner.  I’m also drafting off the ends of the batt so that the major alignment of fiber is parallel to my direction of pull.

The grey mile…

Dear Jan,

52.jpg71.jpgThat post title would be more accurately put as “The grey 1.183 mile…”  Yep, that’s 2082 yards* of 3-ply from the grey portion of my Targhee cross fleece.  I spun it woolen, drawing out the singles fairly fine, and I’d say it has resulted in a heavy fingering or perhaps sport weight yarn.   I love the color (which happens to match Wilson’s hair perfectly).  The photo with heads up on the dime is the singles, the tail side shows the 3-ply.

63.jpgThat is a lot of yarn – 8 skeins, some quite big.  How does one bloom the fiber and set the twist in that much yarn?   Not in the bathroom sink, that’s for sure.  I figured if I washed the fleece in the washer, certainly I can wash the yarn there, too.

8.jpgI like to track my yarn as I spin it, keeping notes on method, fiber, yardage, and date of production on a paper tag.  Of course these can’t be washed with the yarn.  I use the plastic locking stitch markers to mark the tags and the skein they came from so I can match them back up again later.  With 8 skeins and only 2 colors of markers, you have to get creative with  color combinations to keep them all clear.

9.jpg10.jpgI filled the washer about halfway with warm water, added a goodly amount of wool wash, turned the washer off, then laid the yarn in on top of the water.  Wow, did I mention that is a lot of yarn?  I pushed it gently under the water and then went away for about half an hour to let it soak.

I then skipped the wash cycle ahead to the final spin cycle. I wanted to avoid any water being sprayed on the yarn which might cause some degree of felting.  A good spinning got most of the water out – the yarn left the washer feeling fluffy and substantially softer.

16.jpgUpstairs to the deck where I laid a heavy towel out on the table and then, WHACK!  This is the aerobic part of spinning, giving each skein about a dozen whacks against the towel, moving my hand position around the skein as I did so.  This causes a woolen fiber to bloom and helps set the twist so the yarn won’t go wonky on you as you knit.  Here you see the freshly whacked yarn, already looking fluffy.

I set up a drying rack inside the shower stall of the spare bathroom.  As you are aware we suffer a kitten infestation here, so I wasn’t taking any chances.  The yarn was nearly dry about 4 hours later.

23.jpgThe final yarn makes my heart sing.  And this method – way easier than hand soaking, squeezing, rolling in towels, etc.  Drying time is cut by something like a full day.  Unlike the Hemlock cat bed, this experiment was a 100% success.  I give it an A+.

Now to figure out what to knit. I’m looking for a cardigan pattern suited to the slight texture and color variations of homespun.  Any suggestions?

Love,

Ellen

*Note, as  this is a 3-ply, that was 6,246 yards or over 3.5 miles of spinning for the singles that make it up.  It does keep me off the streets…

Time to curl up in a snug bed…

Dear Jan,

34.jpgAutumn is clearly moving towards winter, as my Solstice cactus starts budding just as the sugar maple is in full color.  I hurried up and finished my Hemlock cat bed, knit from the remains of the Hemlock Ring blanket.  I didn’t want the kittens to be chilly.

15.jpgI knit about 10 rows into the feather and fan section before proceeding to knit straight, for form sides.  Then I did a 4 stitch applied I-cord for the edging.  It now looked like an outlandish slouch hat.

22.jpgA few rounds in  the washing machine and I had something with a bit of body to it, but the edges sure don’t stand up much.  I’ll probably throw it in the washer a few more times.  The lace felts up interestingly, but bumpy, so I would qualify this as one of those “no experiment is a failure, you always learn something” experiences.  What did I learn?  I’m really tired of these colors.

43.jpgThey do look better toned down with a little basic black and grey.  I believe this pictures shows the bed with another round in the washer.  At least the kitties are mildly interested in it.  Final grade: C-, for effort.

With a little effort I’ll have some more posts with big spinning progress and even some more knitting progress this weekend.  I hope your weekend is wonderful.

Love,

Ellen

Buckeyes…

Hey, Jan,

13.jpg32.jpg42.jpg51.jpg7.jpg61.jpgRecruiting at Ohio State  gave me the excuse to spend a weekend in Ohio.  I packed a lot in.  A lovely evening with dear Columbus friends (featuring tiaras), a lunch and volleyball game with our niece and beautiful grand-niece and adorable grand-nephew (featuring patience on nephew’s part), overnight visit to Marietta to see our maternal unit (featuring kitty), and a trip to Lancaster to visit my college roommate, Mary (featuring Laser Cats).

Lots of laughter in this weekend, including some unintented humor from Eloise when she explained that she liked Fox News because other news programs just gave you information.  Fill in your own version of what else you think Fox News give you.

33.jpgAnd a little bit of knitting this weekend, too.  I worked steadfastly during the “no electronic device” portion of the flights and got some hotel knitting time in, too, focused on my Crazy Cat Socks.  I got them close enough to finishing that they were done by Tuesday evening.  In brief:  Cat Bordhi’s Coriolis pattern knit on US Size 0’s out of 2DI4 Yarn Duo, an 80% merino, 20% nylon sock yarn in a colorway that was absolutely gorgeous in the skein and satisfying in the sock.  I knit it a bit too long – not noticeable in a shoe, but if shoeless I slip around a bit.  Also, the spiraling band cinches in the circumference a bit, making it less stretchy, exacerbated by my widening the band from the couple of stitches in the master pattern to a full 4 stitches wide.  I have to work to get these over my heel.  Once over, I do like the way they fit.

14.jpgThe kittens wonder why I don’t just grow fur on my toes.

More later this weekend, I hope.  (Knitting, not fur on my toes.)

Love,

Ellen

Random action…

#11, #12, #8 is what the random number generator said, so congratulations to Laura R, Cricket, and JoanC2!  I’ll get the books in the mail this weekend, if you would so kindly send me your address at eDOTsilva  AT  comcastDOTnet

Cheers,

Ellen

The First Rule of Fight Club

dsc01163.JPG  Dear Ellen,

This is about a week old, suffered while in Brussels.  Yes, the story behind it is indeed embarassing.  No, the story behind it does not involve alcohol.  ‘Nuff said.

The remainder of the Brussels trip was too fast.  I landed Sunday, had all day meetings Monday, and flew out on Tuesday morning.  dsc01146.JPGdsc01153.JPGdsc01160.JPGdsc01149.JPG“Blink!” And it was gone.  I did have a great view from my hotel room — same hotel as usual, but I’m usually in a room looking over the back alley — and we did go walking out on Sunday night for dinner.  I almost didn’t bring my camera, but am pleased that I did.  I only took about a half dozen shots, but they were good ones.  I think the shot of Saint Catherine’s Church at night is my favorite.  Camera will travel with me this week as I head for Philadelphia and “Vision 2020” where I’m one of two delegates from Virginia.  This is one trip I’m really looking forward to!

dsc01161.JPGdsc01162.JPGOn the Brussels trip I finished my Tangled Vines socks.  I will write up the pattern for them, hopefully tonight, but we’ll see.  It is Sunday and almost 5:30PM already, so it may have to wait till next week.   I enjoyed knitting these and I like the fabric.  Some lace socks seem to have too flimsy delicate of a fabric, but these are lacey looking and still feel like they aren’t one thread-snap away from unraveling.  I designed them for a high instep with average ankle thickness and find that they fit very nicely.  The pattern will have both written and charted instructions for the lace stitch, the traveling vines pattern in Walker.  I had to work out the chart myself and managed to get past a challenge that others seemed to have with it (I did some web searching to see if it had already been done) by shifting the pattern a few stitches so that the decreases all fall within the bounds of the repeat.  That makes it very workable for a sock pattern and eliminated the fiddliness of shifting stitches around needles when worked on dpn’s.

dsc01165.JPGI solved another knitting problem this weekend as I finally pulled my Kniestrüpmfe out of the drawer and sat down with a needle and elastic thread to work some extra elasticity into the ribbing at the top of the cuffs.  I simply turned them inside out and then ran the needle through the backs of the purl stitches (all right, all right, I do know that the back of a purl stitch is a knit stitch!) around the sock.  I knotted the ends securely and then trimmed them close.  This was repeated about 15 times on each sock to form parallel rounds from the bottom of the ribbed section to the very edge of the cuff.  I love how it turned out.  It’s invisible from the right side (the picture is of the wrong side) and when I put the socks on they feel snug, but not tight.  I’ll be able to wear these with no fear that they’ll fall down.  Now to find a corduroy skirt to wear with them!

dsc01167.JPGdsc01170.JPGMy last knitting report is on Baby’s First Angora, a new pattern of mine (still in pencil notations, but which will be converted for upload soon!) for simple, but luxurious accessories for the 3-6 month old.  (I’ll make a version for the 0-3 month old as well, but haven’t done so yet.)  These are fun to knit as they finish so quickly and take such a small amount of yarn.  These are of Phildar Phil’Angora 70 — it took 30 wopping grams of it for the entire set.  I only wish that I had a real baby to try them out on!!

Breathe deeply…another week is heading our way!

Love, Jan

Predicting the future…there will be winners…

What ho, Jan!  How did we let our 3rd bloggiversary slip by without a contest?  I intend to correct that by the end of this post.

Solstice Slip PairI took a look back over what we’ve done over the last 3 years.  When we got started, you were knitting socks, I was knitting hats, and there were one or two frogging instances right off the bat.  We were already relying on our pets, some sadly departed now, to give us relief when knitting bit us in the behind.

dscn0194.JPGA year later, you were knitting more socks (among many other things), but from Colorado instead of Virginia.  We had the first sighting of that bear.  And I was in Cleveland shopping for wedding dresses with Karen while madly knitting on my first Bohus sweater.  Marie had gotten married to Heidi, Jenny was home from a year in Korea, lots of living in that year!

dscn1943.JPGLast September, I was starting another Bohus (ahem, no finishing of that one yet), you were still knitting socks, usually from the air as you travelled the globe to defend our country, and you had bought property in Pennsylvania after yet another move had brought you back to the east coast.  Ruby approved heartily.  And this year brought us the contributions of that reknowned fiber expert, Dr. Yarn.

And this year, you continue to travel the globe, a sock for every country and little baby caps along the way, me staying put but staying busy with work and knitting, both of us watching our adult children with such delight.  We’ve both made strides in our designs, getting a few patterns onto Ravelry and even submitting items to some other contests.

21.jpgTwo big changes for me this year – kittens and spinning.  And yes, they coexist, mostly peacefully.  Neither one leaves my knitting alone.

5.jpgI’m finally knitting something out of my handspun.  It seems I had to accumulate enough to feel I could start to use it up.  I’m knitting Saroyan by Liz Abinante out of my Lorna’s Laces handpaint, worsted spun.  I did not put enough twist in the ply, nor is the yarn very even, but I am absolutely satisfied with how it is working up.

6.jpgI would be remiss if I didn’t mention how important some of the connections we’ve made through the blog are to me.  I just received a new bag I’d ordered from Sallee, so she can be my example of the many wonderful bloggers and readers with whom we’ve connected.  The bag, by the way, is one of Sallee’s new designs available at her NanaSadieRose site.  It ties to your belt or belt loops for portable knitting.  As always, impeccable construction and fabulous color.

Now, what everyone has been waiting for – some celebrating – with prizes!  Here’s the deal – leave a comment with one of your favorite moments from our blog since its inception and your name will go in the hat for one of three prizes, one for each year.

picture-13.pngpicture-14.pngpicture-12.pngIt was a thrill to be selected for publication in 1,000 Fabulous Knit Hats, so one copy of that is in the prize pile.  I’ll sign my pattern in the book if the winner wishes.  Bohus continues to be a major theme of my knitting, so one copy of the hard-to-come-by Wendy J. Johnson/Susanna Hansson booklet, Bohus Stickning – Radiant Knits: An Enchanting Obsession is also in the mix.  And we’ll round out the offering with a copy of Jenn Wilder’s Fiber Art Almanac 2011, a great place to take knitting notes and enjoy a wide variety of fiber trivia and stories.

Contest deadline: Saturday October 23rd, 11:59 pm central time, or until I am able to select a winner via random number generator, whichever comes latest.

31.jpgThe kittens and I are looking forward to our fourth year.  I hope you are, too.

Love,

Ellen

picture-11.pngP.S. Speaking of contests, I won another one recently!   The 1,000 Fabulous Knit Hat contest led me to investigate the designs of Woolly Wormhead.  She just celebrated her 5th bloggiversary; I was a lucky winner of a set of her e-books.  Check this designer out – both classic and edgy stuff, very clever construction.  You will see some of her designs showing up in my knitting soon.

Opulence…I has it, too…

Dear Jan,

The mini-giraffe is sure cute, but my opulence is real, not special effects.  100% pure Mongolian cashmere is what I’m talking about, being knit up for a baby about to enter the world.

“What?!,” you say.   “Cashmere for babies???  Insanity!  In a moment of exhaustion, mom or dad will likely throw it in the washing machine and it will end in heartbreak.”

Not according to Jasmin and Gigi.  They claim that 100% cashmere is washable and dryable, and I did an experiment to find out.  Here is the abstract and a few figures from the paper which I will be submitting to a peer reviewed journal in the near future.

The Effect of Machine Washing and Drying on 100% Cashmere

Twinsetellen, MKI

 Twinset Designs

Abstract:  The possibility of using 100% cashmere for baby garments which require frequent laundering was investigated.  A baby mitt knit in a cabled design was laundered under normal conditions (top-load machine, warm water, standard liquid (unscented, uncolored) laundry detergent, accompanying load of T-shirts).  The mitt was enclosed in a lingerie bag, but no other special treatment was given.  The entire load was dried on a normal cycle (moderate heat, 40 minutes).  Comparison to an unwashed mitt demonstrated increased softness and halo with no change to the dimensions of the mitt.  Further study is needed to determine the effect of machine laundering on other garments or in comparison to hand laundering.

4.jpgFigure 1:  Control mitt and experimental mitt prior to treatment.

12.jpgFigure 2:  Control mitt and experimental mitt after treatment (experimental mitt on right).

My conclusion – machine washing and drying cashmere is A-OK, and now I have a fabulous option for baby gifts.  Even a small item in cashmere will make a big impact.

11.jpgSelkie was much more interested in studying the qualities of wool as a sleeping surface.  As she and her sister will soon be spayed, I can’t blame her for having little interest in baby items.

Cheers,

Ellen

Opulence…I has it.

It is not possible for me to express how very badly I want my own mini-giraffe.

http://www.youtube.com/v/AkMsSIjQXxo?fs=1&hl=en_US

Go Red for Women

barb-parry-and-friends.jpgDear Ellen,

I love reading Sheep Gal’s blog…except when it went quiet for a while and her readership discovered it was because she had suffered a heart attack.  Well, she’s back on her feet again and working towards a full recovery.  In the process she has decided to raise money to fight heart disease and make women aware of their risks.  Her blog post from a few days ago tells a bit more of her story and has a link to the American Heart Association page where people can donate to the cause.

Love, Jan