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

Archive for February, 2014


Episode 34 — Of Buns and Birds

In which we discuss buns of the bunny variety, birds of the painted variety, quick trips to Mexico and the Sunshine State, Spin Off judging, ice storms, back spasms, cast-ons and cast-offs, marking hanks of handspun and Russian Joins in honor of the event taking place in Sochi.

Ellen had a warm interlude in Mexico for work.  A highlight was a wonderful breakfast prepared by volunteers at the site she visited, featuring huevos, chicharrones, and salsas; the only disappointment was that the small Mexican airport security staff took away her metal needles (no, they weren’t Signatures).

Jan has been kept off the streets by all the fiber judging she is doing for various alpaca shows.  She appreciates the job because it is a chance to educate breeders on hand spinning quality for fleece.  She did get a brief respite at the Lebanon Rabbit Breeder’s Show where she helped in a vendor booth and didn’t come home with a bunny, believe it or not.   She is proud to say she has no extra buns.

Another warm interlude for Ellen was a Sanibel Island retreat.  She saw aligators, roseate spoonbills and wood storks Ding Darling National Nature Refuge, and nesting woodstorks and a painted bunting at Corkscrew Swamp, all highlights for this casual birder (well, not the alligator so much).

Though Ellen sighs at being back in the cold, at least she didn’t have to deal with the ice storm that Jan and livestock dealt with in Pennsylvania.  She sighs with pleasure to be able to share the news that Bohus Stickning reproduction kits will be available again, with Pernille at Angoragarnet receiving the mantle from Solveig Gustafson herself.  Given the angora content,  you know more buns are involved!

Jan made contact with a nurse friend who shared that their NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) is looking for preemie caps – not teeny tiny, but a bit smaller than newborn.  Ellen’s pattern, Bitsy Baby Beanies would fit the bill perfectly.

Ellen has the usual on her runway – Limpid which is her version of Martina Behm’s Lintilla , Forever in the Forest , and her nascent sock design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.  She did hit some milestones, though – moving to a 3rd ball of lace yarn on the lace stole (over 1,000 yds knit!), on to the final edging of Lintilla, and into the 2nd sock of the Modesock socks.

She added her sweater  Great Dayne to the active group, too, as part of the Ravellenic Games.  She just needs to lengthen the sleeves and that will do it.

Jan is working on Felfs for her family, continues to work on her Hugs and Kisses Socks and has made progress on some more hats.

Ellen was bitten, not so much by her knittin’, rather by her failure to take notes on a design change she made on the fly in her own pattern.  She also decided her sleeves on her Great Dayne sweater were just too short and surgery was in order.  Jan’s own design bit her, too, as she would frequently find herself out of sync with the eye of partridge stitch pattern in her soon to be released hat pattern.  She’s also run up short in the amount of yarn needed for a pair of Felfs.

In Finely or Finally Finished, Jan reports that she did master that hat design, her Surface Tension hat, and has one to offer to Team Knitmore’s Halos of Hope efforts.  Ellen experimented with what amounted to a drinking game but for knitting, creating a cowl from a pattern designed for a scarf in which one changes the design as different elements of the Sochi Olympic opening occurred – it probably worked better as a scarf, because as a cowl it was really bad and will likely be frogged.  Jan also finished some boot sock‘s for keeping her feet warm during barnwork.

This episode, the twins answered the What Would Susan Ask question of what have they gotten from their podcast.  They concur, being part of the global knitting conversations is a huge gift, and they admit, the nudges to get a bit more knitting done so they have something to discuss has been a gift, too!

Design principles for the episode included a discussion of cast on’s – including the long tail, the German twisted, Judy’s magic cast on, and the variations of the tubular cast on – and bind off’s – including a suspended bind off (scroll down in this link), Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off, a 3-needle I-cord bind off, and the sewn bind off.  Many other options are available in books and the web.  Cap Sease’s Cast On, Bind Off compendium is an excellent source.

Ellen has been spinning a full 360 degrees – she is up to 11 hanks of her milk chocolate CorriedaleX, with 18 bobbins of singles remaining.  She gave a description of how she ties her hanks so that they don’t tangle in the washing or dyeing.

Jan took us through the details of the process of judging alpaca fiber.  She took us through the stages – first impression, condition of sample (cleanliness, vegetable matter), checking for soundness and uniformity, assessing fineness and texture, presence of guard hairs, how the fiber reacts to carding and how it spins.  She gives plenty of comments and recommendations to the breeder of the fiber to improve the fiber for hand spinners.

Ellen used a Russian join to splice in her next ball of yarn for her lace shawl and described this term in Fiber Jargon.

Jan’s Embellishment for the week is a rain chain -it’s even pretty in the ice.   And for a slick trick she described how she is labeling her hanks of alpaca.

The Living Doll contest will close soon (contest is closed).  The contest is proceeding with some wonderful descriptions of the living dolls our listeners would like to knit up out of the new e-book from Susan B. Anderson.  Check out “Mary, Millie and Morgan“to learn how to knit your own doll.

Ellen’s Fashion Forecast includes a class with Abby Franquemont and then a sheep shearing day at Gale Woods Farm where she will be doing a spinning demo.

Jan’s forecast includes thinking about a possible TwinSet Designs retreat someday.  Let us know on our Ravelry group if you have interest in this.

In the meantime, enjoy the show!

Episode 33 — Retreat!!


In which we discuss our recent experiences at retreats (Ellen at the Knit-a-Journey Mid-Winter Retreat in Duluth, MN and Jan at Tina’s Fiber Retreat in York, PA), farm medical procedures from which several of the animals would like to have retreated, the dangers of knitting lace after the drams, the value of The Knitting Guild of America Master Knitter classes, the whimsical and classic designs of Ann Kelly, plying yards and yards of Corriedale Cross singles, a slick trick and some other stuff — to include a new spinner!

We are coming and going these days – just catching Jan after a fun weekend at Tina’s Fiber Retreat at Camp Donegal and Ellen is getting ready for some work travel.

The previous weekend, Ellen played with the gang at the Knitajourney Midwinter Retreat up in Duluth.  Wonderful company, wonderful food (if you are ever in Duluth, a visit to the New Scenic Cafe is a must; At Sarah’s Table ain’t bad, either), and wonderful yarn (Three Irish Girls, based in the area (Superior, WI to be specific), has Duluth colorways like Hawk Ridge) made for a wonderful weekend.  A Scotch tasting may have contributed to some people being bitten by their knittin’ later, but The Balvenie Doublewood, the Glennfiddich 12 years old, and the Bunnahabhain Islay single malt were highly enjoyable (even if Bevil thought the later tasted like sheep).

Jan spun up a storm – and so did her daughter, Marie, at Tina’s Fiber Retreat, a local tradition.  As always, in both cases, spending time with kindred spirits was the real highlight. The spinning included Jan’s test drive of roving made from her alpaca, Dipper’s, fleece, which we hope will soon available via Etsy.  She also got some knitting in – a bootsock out of a Skacel yarn (sorry, Jan, until you link the project I can’t figure out what yarn this was!) containing a variety of lovely fibers – wool, silk, nylon, alpaca, and even some angora.  She avoided the Second Sock Syndrome by knitting the 2nd sock first.  Hah!

Jan also worked on a second version of her Surface Tension hat, this one for Team Knitmore’s Halos of Hope efforts.  She continues to work on her Socks Previously Known as Hugs and Kisses.

Ellen has the usual on her runway – Limpid which is her version of Martina Behm’s Lintilla , Forever in the Forest , and her nascent sock design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.   Forever in the Forest bit her, but really can’t be blamed as Ellen was working on lace late at night and after the aforementioned Scotch tasting.

And in a case where the knittin’ was bitten, Ellen reported that after almost 4 years of hard wear, she wore a hole in the thumb of her Springtime Sugarplums gloves knit out of Socks that Rock Mediumweight from Blue Moons Fiber Arts.  It is amazing how close in color the replacement thumb is – that is a good dye job!

Jan and Ellen discussed how the rigor and detailed curriculum of the TKGA Master Knitter program is both a bit maddening and really advances your skills.  They recommend jumping in whatever level you are at – the earlier in your knitting career that you do, the more you’ll learn, but you’ll learn something no matter how experienced you are.

Featured designer for this episode is Ann McDonald Kelly, whose Monkey Balls ornament amused Jan no end.  Other lovely patterns in her collection include the Houndstooth Tank and the Kelmscott Throw, among many.  Jan thinks a Nexo Jacket, which is a free pattern that uses mosaic knitting to excellent effect, may be in her future.

Jan shared her spinning during Patterns of our Lives, but Ellen had some content to share.  She has finished one bump of the BFL in the Sled Dog colorway using her Turkish Spindle from Jenkins Spindles, and plans to use a Golding spindle for the second bump.  But first, she wants to continue the great start she has on her CorriedaleX singles.

While on the topic of plying up skeins, Jan clarified the Fiber Jargon of skein, hank, and ball.  Technically, a loop of yarn tied in several places is not a skein, it is a hank, but even Jan agreed that modern use includes skein for this purpose.  A ball is clearly something else – yarn wound into a ball shaped (or cake shaped!) object.  Jan mentioned that you wouldn’t eat that cake from a roving plate, yet one more way fiber is put up for sale, in this case, a large shallow cake of roving.

Check out donniestatzer’s tip for accurate button placement on fine gauge knits, this episodes Slick Trick.
The Living Doll contest is proceeding with some wonderful descriptions of the living dolls our listeners would like to knit up out of the new e-book from Susan B. Anderson.  Check out “Mary, Millie and Morgan“to learn how to knit your own doll.

Enjoy the show!