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

Archive for September, 2012


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

Autumn in the North Woods…

Dear Jan,

I dashed north on Friday to teach a silk hanky knitting workshop near Ely, MN.  The workshop went well – of course, it did, with Karen J as co-creator and co-teacher.  We had participants make their own little container of hand scrub, we provided silk history and silk poems, and we demonstrated our favorite ways of working with hankies, or mawata. I hope to post more on that once I get my patterns for a couple of little silk headbands cleaned up and ready for publication.

That fall has come to the north woods is absolutely undeniable.

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The foliage was intense in color, the air was brisk and the stars were brilliant in the night sky.

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It is traditional that this weekend up north is the first that I have to scrape the frost from my car.

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The cold didn’t scare away the walleye.  Paul Bunyan caught this one in Rush City.

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An extra joy was that I came home in time to spend some time with Jenny and admire her Bohus-in-progress.  The Green Mist is ethereal, every bit as beautiful as the fall foliage.

But back to work for now.  I hope you are getting enough time to appreciate the autumn while you are in the midst of wedding prep for A & L!

Love,

Ellen

TwinSet Designs, the Podcast!

1-jan_ellen1959.jpgWow, Ellen!  Can you believe it?  We’re officially podcasters with a Libsyn account, an RSS feed and we can be found on iTunes!  Woot!

As a newbie to podcast publishing I made two errors that I hope will correct with the next feed update to iTunes.  First, the title currently shows as the “twinsetdesigns” podcast vice the “TwinSet Designs” podcast.  Second, I had a typo in the description.  Please forgive me.  I hope our readers/listeners will bare with me if I have to delete and reinitiate the podcast feed.  It could mean they’d have to resubscribe. (Assuming some actually subscribe.)  In either case, searching for “twinset” in the iTunes store will find us. [Edit — It did correct itself!  Hurrah!]

Anyone can also go directly to TwinSet Designs on Libsyn to listen on-line.  Or they can look in the navigation box on the right of this webpage and listen to it from the link there.  That’s also where they can find the show notes.  In the future we might want to put them up on the LibSyn webpage too.  We can talk about that.

I’m already gathering material for Episode 2!

Love, Jan

Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

Dear Ellen,

In further efforts to catch up with blog posting, I give you July…and August…and a bit of September.  My next post will be filled with knitterly goodness as opposed to being a recap of “What I Did During My Summer Vacation.”

Love, Jan

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Fourth of July was celebrated at the ball park with a loss for the Lancaster Barnstormers.

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But there were some great fireworks!

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Much Nature was Admired.

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New York City was wandered about to include Central Park (with it’s Manhattan cityscape and unfortunate goat being devoured by eagles, hopefully not fiber goats), Union Square (in whose locale I discoverd a wedding dress made of teaspoons), a funky bar (where the art immortalizes sheep eating lamb carpaccio) and the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop (where I ate one of the best ice cream cones I have ever had!!).

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Vegan food of such delight was consumed at my lovely niece’s culinary school.  So nice to be there in your company as well as that of my daughter and my other niece.  And who knew?…vegan was pretty darned tasty!  (But I was hungry within several hours…note visit to BGIS above.)

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August brought the annual pig roast at Mark and Cheryl’s where much enjoyment was had!

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More natural beauty.

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Visits galore (including Bambi Galore, get it?  Heh!)

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And our sad farewell to the best dog ever.

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September has brought happier times with a visit to Ohio (where you can attend the Jug Fest and watch barges on the Ohio River with Mom and her companion or have a stare-down with Glenda, the kitty in the sidetable drawer.

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And Allen has transferred from duty in Bahrain and has made it home!  He and his fiancee joined me in perusing the SOLANCO (Southern Lancaster County) Fair where we saw animal friends enjoying fair food.  They love it here, which is good as his next duty station is only about an hour away.  That really helps as they can base out of the farm to look for their next home and are close at hand for wedding planning.

Phew!  I’m tired…that was a full summer!

Love, Jan

Grizzlyhog! revisited…

Dear Jan,

My neighbor and I have been conspiring to remove the grizzlyhog hazard from our gardens.  I provide the real estate and the apples, he provides the trap and the manpower.

After weeks of catching very indignant squirrels, we got us a Grizzlyhog!

img_3252.jpgDon’t worry, no whistlepigs were harmed in the making of this blog post.  This varmint was transported over city lines to a wild area where s/he can romp but there is very little chance of them revisiting the scene of their crime.

Now if we can only catch their partner…

Love,

Ellen

How to place 5th at the fair…

Dear Jan,

One of the sports we engage in here in Minnesota is second guessing the judges for the knitting competition at the state fair.  They sometimes have a different sensibility about what constitutes a proper gauge or a difficult pattern.  It is highly subjective, and they are the judges, so all whinging aside, I really don’t have any complaints.

Except for the one I want to lodge against myself, upon reviewing the comments made on my handspun socks which recently earned a 5th place ribbon.  I was thrilled to even get my socks judged (only the top ones do make it to the finals) until I read:

“nice work, please check carefully float at toe; excellent choice of pattern for color of yarn; well done heel; excellent Kitchener stitch at toe”

“Float at toe?”  What were they talking about?

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Oh.  I had forgotten to remove the yarn that I had woven in and out every 5 rows to keep track of how far I’d progressed in my toe, working from toe up.  Can you see it?

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It is more visible from the inside – along with the dead giveaway of the long yarn tail.  How on earth did I miss that?!

With the other highly favorable comments, many more than even blue ribbon winners receive, I bet I might have placed higher if not for that leftover yarn.

I am interpreting this as a case of shooting myself in the foot.  Or perhaps I should say shooting myself in the toe.

With a sigh or tw0,

Ellen

Gradually (through a gradient) I made it to the weekend…

Dear Jan,

My brains are oozing out of my ears, it’s been that kind of week.  Luckily it is a gradual ooze.

Far more attractive is the gradual color change in the gradient roving I spun last weekend.  I’m about to sit down to start spinning its twin.    Goal: a 2-ply laceweight for a circular shawl.

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Fiber Optic Yarns 80% Merino/ 20% Silk Layered Gradient top.  Color: Chocolate-Dusty Teal.  True worsted spun with short forward draw.

Cheers,

Ellen

The hat in the cat…

Dear Jan,

I’ve been experimenting with another fiber in my spinning.  It is pretty rare; thus far I’ve only gotten my hands on barely over a gram of the stuff.  But it is soft and just my favorite color.

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The staple is very short – hardly an inch to an inch and a quarter.  I spun it from the cloud with very light take up, using a semi-woolen draw similar to what I used for the bison.

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The resulting yarn, a 2-ply, was extremely fluffy and haloed.  Because this is a double-coated breed, it has some itchiness behind the very soft down, so I’m not sure it would do for a cowl, but perhaps a hat?

Whatever one knit from it, I know it would pair well with jade-colored buttons.

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So what are you spinning up these days?

Love,

Ellen