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Archive for October, 2013


Episode 26 — More Felfs, Less Chemo!!

In which we discuss the Cat Bordhi Fall knitting Retreat, Frog Tree Yarns, the impressive research of David Krag (who with the help of knitters will eliminate the need for chemotherapy for many cancer patients!!!), Yoda and Red Roosters, Master Knitter II Submission madness and wild and crazy chess players, aquaknitting, The House of Jerky, super food, dressing like twins, the designer Melinda VerMeer (she does not have a pearl earring) and how knitters can do great good in the world.  (More Felfs!  Less Chemo!)

Wow, this is a long episode.  If nothing else, listen to some good folks doing good work – we have an interview with Jim Petkiewicz from Frog Tree Yarn at 59:00, Cat Bordhi and her “More Felfs, Less Chemo!” initiative at 1:08:25, and the lovely designer Melinda VerMeer at 45:25 minutes in.  The rest is Jan and me blethering on about our knitting and lives and maybe we toss a wee bit of useful information in, too, as detailed below.

Thanks, Jay and Judy, for the sweet iTunes review!  It has earned you an invitation to the farm, I think.  And thanks, Sandra, for the Bernat Tizzy dishcloths – a simple garter square, but simply delightful and useful.

In Patterns of our Lives, we didn’t mean to turn you all pea green with envy at the fun we’ve been having, but we did have a lot of fun between the Cat Bordhi Fall Retreat in Friday Harbor, Washington, our Seattle dinner with Paula and Marty, touring at the Pike Place Market and Underground Seattle, a score of Hazelknits Divine in the wild (accompanied by meeting Hazelknits and her dye partner in person!).   Once home, Ellen stayed up late with Lisa getting their Master Knitter Level II resubmissions done, and then stayed up some more with some wild chess players.  They plyed her with New Glarus Brewing Co. Moon Man No Coast Ale.   Jan welcomed Heidi, her daughter-in-law to the farm while she and Marie find a new place to live in the area, and she welcomed the alien Yoda, I mean Yoda, to the farm to play mascot goat to the alpacas.

Ellen admitted to trying Scotch – and liking it.  Louise of Caithness Craft Collective is chuckling about this one.

While on San Juan Island for Cat’s retreat, Jan and Ellen visited Pelindaba Lavender Farm, Island Wools, and the House of Jerky and were visited by Lopez Island Fibers.  Wools that Jan and Ellen enjoyed knitting with included Frog Tree Ewetopia, a 50:50 merino:superwash merino blend (great for felting!) and Lion Brand LB Collection Pure Wool.  Jan was working on a triple-twist mobius felted bowl and a tea cozy in the latter yarn, Ellen worked on felfs out of the Ewetopia.

Jan worked on her Fog Lights sweater; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson, Jan has substituted some different colors and is getting great results.  She hopes to finish it by January, but not sure it will be January 2014 or 2015.  Ellen made great progress on her  Great Dayne sweater and it is becoming a real sweater!  She hopes to get it finished soon and written up into an actual pattern.

Another project Jan got going during the retreat is another Swagger version – this one out of her own handspun of Finnsheep fiber, with a lower increase rate to let it have very long “arms” that can be tied around her in the fashion of a working shawl.  Both Jan and Ellen started Felfs! and finished, them, too, during the retreat itself.

Ellen had another bout of knitting everything.   She finished one more (her fourth) Harmonia’s Rings cowl by Sivia Harding, this one out of leftovers from prior cowls knit in Berocco Ultra Alpaca. She finished, as in decided to end, her work on the Domino Muffler by Vivian Hoxbro which she was knitting out of Habu Textiles merino/stainless laceweight.  The colors weren’t working, it was futsy working with a doubled strand – time to move on to better horizons. Nothing wrong with the pattern, just with the particular rendition Ellen was trying.

Forever in the Forest is really truly becoming a stole and got a bit more attention.  Also getting a bit, a small bit, of attention, were her self-designed fingerless mitts (not sleeveless, though it will be that) out of Tunisian Crochet.  She did make good progress on her Chain Mail gloves.  Not so much progress on the spinning, but her BFL fiber she brought did get a daily yard or two twisted out of it.

Ellen’s take on Kelly William’s Strib Hat did get good attention in the form of SKY KNITTING.  All but the last crown decreases were finished on the airplane, and those were finished during the drive to the island.  This hat will be donated to StevenBe’s Hats for the Homeless campaign.

Jan’s SKY KNITTING was the comletion of her version of the Lullaby Rain shawl by Paula Emons-Fuessle , which she calls Misty Morning.

And Ellen did finish one more project – the second poncho from Poncho-mania night at Lisa’s.  With two identical ponchos, the twins had a great time amusing the islanders by dressing somewhat identically for the first time in decades.

After the trip, Jan did finish her tri-fold bowl, her Bohus reproduction and has more Felf’s in the work.  Ellen focused on her Great Dayne sweater and also finished one of her Tunisian mitts.

Jan did get bitten by her knitting.  By her own pattern!  While trying to SKY KNIT during her red eye flight, she smocked an edge far too soon and then worked for another two hours before she realized it.   All she can say is “drat”.   She also decided to frog the design she was working on for the Percasocks and sent the yarn to Florida, in a sense.

Jan also finished a design for the Streambed Lace Shoulder Stole.  Look for a pattern soon!

Melinda VerMeer doesn’t just talk about putting out patterns, she actually publishes.  She recently had Nympholidaea published in Knitty, and she has many other lovely designs available.  Twinset Designs can get a 25% discount on Melinda’s patterns through November using the coupon code, twinset.

Jim Petkiewicz of Frog Tree Yarn shared his story – about the development of their yarns, about the not-for-profit status of Frog Tree and the good they do, and how knitters can share in doing that good.  One way is to register on Goodsearch and shop through Goodshop, selecting the Community Links International charity to receive the pennies that do add up with every click at no additional cost to the searcher or shopper.

Cat Bordhi explained how her new ebook, The Art of Felfs, will support research into targeted cancer therapy – without chemo!  Go buy the book.  Not only are Felfs adorable and fun to knit, you’re doing it for everyone you love.  More Felfs, Less Chemo!

In 360 degrees, Jan got busy upon getting home from the Retreat with a bundle of alpaca fiber samples to wash and spin.  She is evaluating alpaca fiber samples for the Spin Off competition at an upcoming Alpaca Association show.  She got to see quite an array of samples and put a lot of work into it, but hopes handling this variety of fiber will just help her own fiber knowledge development.

Ellen has been spinning more of her CorriedaleX fleece on her Louet Victoria, as well as spinning a roving on Catherine the Great Wheel, using the walking spinning as a cool down after running.  She’s been spinning the CorriedaleX with a long draw and the great wheel spinning is working best, at least with combed top, spun from the fold.

Jan told us more about a previously mentioned Embellishment – Stitch-maps.com.   And one of our listeners has a chance to win a basic subscription to Stitch-maps, courtesy of JC Briar, creator of Stitch-maps.  Just post a comment on the contest thread in our Ravelry group, telling us which of the stitch patterns on the site is your favorite.  Or favorites, if you can’t pick just one.

Ellen’s Fun Fur – Trader Joe’s Pretzel Buns.  (Stop snickering, Jan.)  Jan’s Fun Fur was bunny races.  See the Bunny Hop here.

In Slick Trick’s, Ellen shared a brilliant idea by Dee, also known as PineSlayerDee, which was shared on Ravelry here.  Dee’s No-Twist Circular Knitting Cast On Method creates a little collar which lets you hold your circular cast-on in proper alignment for joining the needles with absolutely no chance of introducing a twist.  Brilliant!

Hurry and sign up for the Carolina Fiber Frolic – all retreat, just relaxed knitting.  Mention Twinset Designs for early registration pricing.  But hurry, the retreat is coming up Nov. 8-10.

Jan’s Fashion Forecast is to see several of our listeners at the Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat.  Ellen is jealous, but she’ll comfort herself by visiting the Fall Fiber Festival in Hopkins, MN.

Don’t forget our design challenge, our first knit-along (KAL), and pair it with a design-along (DAL).  We’ll be doing a DAL-KAL based on Jan’s pattern, Swagger.  Two threads are up in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group – one for chatter, one for finished projects.  If you add your own design variation to the project, you get two entries! The big prize is a skein of Wollmeise Twin, an 80:20 merino:nylon sock yarn – an appropriate prize.

Don’t knit like my sister!

Enjoy the show!

Episode 25 — Three + One = Five

In which we discuss trips to Ohio, visits with siblings, fiber processing workshops, the secret to drum carding, poncho-mania, knitting and saunaing in the north woods, prize winning knitting, the size of Wilson’s head, the size of Ellen’s head, Jan’s loss of brain cells, dizzes and punis, safety to dye for, and the good fortune to be heading to Cat Bordhi’s Fall Retreat.

Thanks to those who leave iTunes reviews and star ratings – we really appreciate it.  And Jan appreciates the wonderful swap package that pgknittingnurse sent her as part of the Caithness Craft Collective coaster swap.  (We love you, Louise!).

Jan’s grand-kitty, Monkey, has come to live with her, along with Marie, Jan’s daughter.  Marie’s wife, Heidi, will be joining the farm soon while the young ladies hunt up their own place.  As if that weren’t enough, Jan bought four more alpaca – three from Ohio, one from the Lancaster area – and ended up with five.  One was pregnant! Billy, aka Sweet William, is an adorable lamb, I mean, cria.  She also reported on the fiber prep class which she took in Ohio – washing, carding, dyeing and more.  Look for some beautiful fiber to come from her (soon we hope!).

Two drum carding lessons that Jan passed on – don’t pull back on the fiber as it enters the drum or it will wrap right around the licker drum, and when pulling fiber off the drum to form a roving, get the diz close to the drum to hold the fiber together.

And because Jan was in Ohio when Ellen was also in the state for work, all 5 of the biological children of our mom were able to get together.  Too bad we couldn’t connect with our other sisters, Beth and Patty, too, or brother, Brent.

Ellen has been processing tomatoes and okra from the garden she adopted.  She also fit a quick tech edit into her schedule for the Finitio Scarf by Mary Lou Egan.  Poncho-mania hit the Twin Cities at Lisa’s – several of Ellen’s knitting friends joined Lisa to hand-loom the fabric for the Easy Folded Poncho (not the Modern Poncho, as we said in the episode) from Churchmouse Yarns and Teas.  Ellen’s poncho is out of a cashmere/angora/merino/silk tweed ordered from Colourmart.

Ellen reported on the fun of the Sisu Lost in the Woods retreat (which included a quick poncho looming!).  This trip up north marks the start of autumn in Minnesota for Ellen – winter won’t be far behind.  She was excited to report seeing an OTTER in the wild!  Fair season started and finished nicely for Jan – she entered 7 items and received 6 ribbons in the West Lampeter Community Fair, including a second sock syndrome ribbon (2nd place on her socks!).

Jan continued working on Misty Morning, her version of Paula Emons-Fuessle’s Lullaby Rain shawl.  Jan resolved her yarn issues by ordering two more balls of yarn.  Jan is also working on her Fog Lights sweater; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson, Jan has substituted some different colors and is getting great results.  She is likely going to finish the sleeves first, then she can make the body as long as possible with the remaining yarn.

The Great Dayne sweater is back in Ellen’s hands after a few months rest.  She’s improvising fingerless mitts (not sleeveless, though it will be that) out of Tunisian Crochet.  Ellen finished one Harmonia’s Rings cowl by Sivia Harding, out of Berroco Vintage, a washable wool:synthetic blend and is well into a second, this one out of Berroco Ultra Alpaca.

Jan got bitten by her knittin’ when she was at Dale’s 35th anniversary of his graduation from West Point – luckily she caught a dropped stitch before it got too far away.  It was a few rows back and she simply laddered it up to the correct row.

Ellen had a similar incident with her Grey Mountains (Mountain Peaks, a Bohus reproduction) hat (kit from SOLsilke) and also knit the geometric design twice because of an error the first time, then knit the following stripes a second time for the same reason.  Her version of Sarah Punderson’s Adirondack, Black Spruce, caused some issues when she accidentally inserted the short row wedges that shape the shawl on the wrong side.  Ellen did finish both of these projects despite the issues.  She also finished a little mobius cowl from a skein of handspun yarn that was a gradient from yellow to blue.

Jan finished a scarf, Monet’s Argyle,  where the yarn did the colorwork for her and resulted in an argyle pattern through deliberate pooling of color.  Artful Color, Mindful Knits is the book which guided her in this project.

For a new design challenge, we introduce our first knit-along (KAL), and pair it with a design-along (DAL).  We’ll be doing a DAL-KAL based on Jan’s pattern, Swagger.  Two threads are up in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group – one for chatter, one for finished projects.  If you add your own design variation to the project, you get two entries! The big prize is a skein of Wollmeise Twin, an 80:20 merino:nylon sock yarn – an appropriate prize.

In 360 degrees, Ellen has been spinning a bit with her Jenkins Kuchulu, a very small (and cute!) Turkish spindle while on conference calls and has gone to the other extreme by working with her Great Wheel on different fiber preps.  Suffice it to say that some work better than others.  Her medium sized wheel, her Louet Victoria, was just right for spinning up some more of her CorriedaleX that has been in the works.

Jan plyed up the alpaca/merino/stellina that the spun last week and also skeined and washed some yarn from Finnsheep.  She also spun up a little art batt from her fiber processing workshop, and also finished up the last bit of her Into the Whirled batt and will soon get it plyed up.

Jan described the meaning of the fiber term, diz, a device used to draw a roving from a comb or drum carder.  Ellen discussed punis – a fiber prep form for spinning.

Jan challenges us to investigate Stitch Maps, JC Briar’s new approach to charting without a grid, resulting in a depiction of what the knitting will actually look like.  Go take a look at the web site and we’ll be discussing this again soon!

Ellen’s slick trick is a way to eliminate ends in Fair Isle knitting.  It works for feltable yarns – figure out how much yarn is needed for about 5 sts.  When you come to the end of a color, stop 5 sts before the end of the color and break the yarn off with 2x the length you determined that you’d need for those 5 sts.  Lay this across the new yarn and fold it back on itself, then fold the new yarn back on itself.  Adjust so the intersection is exactly at the point that gives just enough the length needed to knit those last stitches.  Felt the join together by dampening it and rubbing it together between your palms (if working with a non-feltable yarn, you might try a Russian join).

It will be a slick trick if Ellen gets the show notes up before she has to pack for the Cat Bordhi retreat which she and Jan are attending in mid-October.

Don’t knit like my sister!