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

Archive for December, 2012


And the warmth will return…

Happy Solstice!

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Love, Ellen

Don’t Fence Me In

Dear Ellen,

I surely have felt fenced in of late.  The post-surgical complications (nothing too serious, dear readers) have been a figurative and literal pain in the……okay, okay, I won’t go there.  I was going a bit stir crazy, but I’m very happy to report that in just the last few days I have seen a dramatic increase in my ability to sit upright without doing additional damage or suffering some very discrete yet powerful pain.  This translates directly into my being able to do things with my hands like knitting, doing needlepoint, needlefelting, etc.  One is far less likely to go insane more able to entertain oneself when not limited to lying about on one’s stomach.  This has yielded a number of completed projects on which I’ll focus most of the rest of this blog post (assuming anyone who reads this blog  also listens to the podcast so I don’t need to tell them about Thanksgiving or the chickens).

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I will comment on one other item though — Dale, with some help from Allen, Heidi, one of our teenaged neighbors and me (on the very last short board so I could say I helped) has completed putting up the posts and rails for our first paddock.  Isn’t it fabulous?  (Okay, it’s a crappy picture from Dale’s very old phone, but at least you get the idea.) We (and by we, I mean Dale) still have to put in the gates and trim the posts to height, but the hardest work is finished.  I’m now working on the shopping list for halters, water troughs, hay racks and medical supplies.  I can’t wait to see alpaca inside that fence.

1-dsc06234.JPGNow to those finished projects.  I’m really pleased with my Spring Grove Tocque and Mitts.  They’re knit from yarn produced by Spring Grove Alpaca Ranch — our intended source for our first alpaca.  (But you can only see the tocque here, and not yet blocked at that — imagine very similar mitts till I post a picture some day.)  Carl, the owner was so generous with his time and alpaca for the wedding that I wanted to knit him something to repay him.  I think he will appreciate it doubly since they’re made from his yarn — a lovely sport weight in natural fawn and tan colors provided kindly by the alpacas Prediction and Ellamy.  I do so love knitting with alpaca yarn — kitten belly soft (TM).

1-dsc06189.JPGI also created a little menagerie of fiber friends to keep me company in my confinement.  They are all needlefelted, most have a partial or complete pipecleaner armature.  Each one only took a few hours to complete — pretty quick and I think they turned out really cute.  Each is the representation of a well loved pet.  Can you pick out Max and Ruby?  These guys are destined to find themselves under a Christmas tree (or in a stocking).  I’ll miss them, but by then I should be able to be out and about and talking to humans.  (No, I haven’t been talking to these guys….much.)

6-dsc06206.JPG I also knocked out a handful of felted ornaments — 2 sheep, a snowman and a whoopie pie.  I gave the little Wensleydale to my friend Jeri who raises them.  The little snowman went to our knit group ornament exchange.  Dale will get the whoopie pie and I get the little white and black sheep (perhaps a Suffolk?) is for me.  I think I need to add a ribbon to the whoopie pie to make sure Dale doesn’t think he can eat it.

1-show-me-your-larch-pack.jpgAnd Show Me Your Larch Pack is finished!!  Off the needles, pieced and photographed…though not blocked yet.  I do think you can see it’s fantastic potential in these photos — just imagine what it will look like after a good wet blocking.  I am so looking forward to wearing it.

I haven’t cast on Pretty Thing yet, but I hope to before the weekend is over.  I’ve got some other things to get done, so I’d better get to it if I’m going to get this posted and pick out yarn!

Love, Jan

Cool color…

Dear Jan,

After the miles of worsted lace weight spinning (well, maybe not miles, but perhaps a quarter mile) I’ve done lately, I needed some instant gratification.  A batt – I needed to spin a batt with a woolen draw and to make it interesting I’d try to spin at a little heavier gauge than I have a tendency to do.

I made a trek to the Chamber of Secrets and the icy blue batt that from the drum carding class I took last spring practically jumped into my hands.  It is lustrous Coopworth fiber from Carol Wagner at Hidden Valley Farm and Woolen Mill, mostly in blues & teals but with a smidge of yellow and yes, to spice it up, a little bit of pink.  (I know, I don’t do pink.  Yet there it is.)  The locks were dyed the individual colors and then I carded them together.

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I spun the singles with a forward semi-woolen draw, fairly long because the staple on Coopworth is several inches, letting enough of the twist slip back into the fiber to grab yet controlling it enough to prevent locking up and to enable slight smoothing of the yarn.  I drafted quickly and was able to produce a heavy laceweight singles which when chain plyed produced a heavy dk weight yarn.

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The yarn that this fiber produces is strong and supple, perhaps not next to the neck soft but it would be fabulous for rugged mittens or an outerwear sweater.  The flecks of color remind me of tweed, but don’t have that slightly unkempt look some tweeds can have because the tweedy bits appear to be about to fall off the yarn.  And I have to say, I even like the pink.

I hope you are feeling more and more in the pink every day.

Love,

Ellen

P.S.  Happy Solstice tomorrow!

Episode 7 — Fiber Friends

Episode 7 —Fiber Friends  is Live!

We convey our sympathy to family and friends of knitpurlgurl.  For ideas on how you can support her family, please visit the Friends of Knitpurlgurl group on Ravelry. 

Thanks to irocknits for the gift of the For Good hat pattern – this time for Jan (she’s such a pouter)!

Thanks for the iTunes ratings, but more important, thanks for listening.

Jan’s recovery continues, slowly, but that doesn’t keep Ellen from teasing her about the Hens Who Will Not Lay.

The twins answer What Would Susan Ask?, this time dreaming about knitting.

Lots of knitting is happening this episode.  Ellen has cast on a new cowl, using her bison handspun and Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Pretty Thing.  She continues to make (slow) progress on Blue Moons and is at her 3rd of 6 mystery items (all will be revealed in good time). She also reported on the start of a Fiber Fusion sweater under Steven Berg’s tutelage. She talks more about that in the Design Principles.

Jan finally started both her Spring Grove hat and gloves.  She is making good progress on her Show Me Your Larch Pack.  Jan also promises photos of her Felted Friends someday.

After discussing spinning bison fiber from a cloud in 360 degrees, Ellen discusses rovings, top, sliver, and clouds in Fiber Jargon.

Ellen reflects on her recent experiences in The Knitting Guild of America’s Master Hand Knitter program.  She and her buddy, Lisa, just sent in their Level II packs – what swatches do you think they will have to resubmit?

Jan and Ellen are identical in their recommendation to check out Annie Modesitt’s new book, History on Two Needles.  Jan liked it more for the history and the technical mastery while Ellen wants to knit several of the projects soon.  Check out the book and get a chance to win one of the patterns! (See the Twinset Designs Ravelry group for more info. Contest closes January 15, 2013.)

Speaking of contests, congratulations to winners of a Cat Bordhi e-book –
Cat’s Sweet Tomato Heel Socks —  Purplefrog5
A Treasury of Magical Knitting —  Irocknits
A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting —  SareBearKnits

and to Aljones1954, winner of the Rhinebeck project bag!

If you are in the Twin Cities area, you might be interested in taking part in the Knit-a-journey Winter Retreat, being held Jan 18-20 in Minneapolis.  Details at the KAJ Ravelry group.  Jan is attending Tina’s Fiber Retreat in her neck of Pennsylvania, but she reports it is all filled up.

Phew!  Did you really make it this far?  Thanks!

Buffalo cowls, won’t you come out tonight?

Dear Jan,

I crack myself up.  I have named the most recent new project in my list “A cowl for George Bailey“, because it is a “buffalo” cowl.  Say it fast and with a gutteral “c” and perhaps you will chuckle a bit.  Kind of seasonal, eh?

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Oh, why buffalo?  It isn’t, actually.  It’s bison, the bison 2-ply I spun last winter.  Every since the spinning it had been telling me it wanted to  become Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Pretty Thing, and now I am granting that wish.

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The long and heavy snowstorm of Sunday has made for some good knitting time and I am 70% of the way through the knitting, partly because it is so enjoyable.  This yarn is wonderful fun to knit – it feels like petting a well-muscled but very soft and fuzzy cat.  Weird description, yet that is what pops in my head every time I pick it up – there is a substance and suppleness to the yarn covered up by a lovely halo of soft.

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Like a fluffy cat, no?

(I’m not sure I have complete buy-in on this.)

Love,

Ellen