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Archive for March, 2014


Episode 37 — Teaser!


In which we discuss the ever continuing winter (in the frigid north), being inspired by new spinners at Gale Wood Farm, bringing home ribbons from the AOA show, the danger of loose dogs, chess party animals, putting the best edge on a garter stitch baby blanket, swatching for socks, colors to dye for, and getting gauge in the worst possible way.

Spring still hasn’t made it to MN, despite being a tease and offering up one warm day that lured Ellen out to run jog walk quickly for 2.5 miles.  The finches in Ellen’s neighborhood are golding despite the temperatures, and  Jan’s spring continues apace.  She is getting the opportunity to see the occasional tundra swan along with the Canada geese that are flying north over her fields (probably heading to Minnesota to poop on Ellen’s lawn).

Ellen continued the family tradition of converting young men/boys into spinners – she snared one at the Gale Woods Farm spring shearing during which she ran a spinning demo.  Jan pondered whether the right alpaca was allowed to become a young man – Dipper, a gelding, won a 1st in the Nationals fiber competition, while Dorito, current herd sire, only placed 6th and is showing signs of developing guard hairs in more areas of his fleece.

Of even greater concern to Jan is a large black dog haunting the chicken coop.  She takes this seriously, and the dog and its owners had better do so, too.  While she doesn’t want to take drastic action, she will protect her livestock.

Jan hasn’t been napping – she has been continuing to work on Reposo, her version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool.  She is well into the second of a new pair of socks in Wisdom Yarn’s Saki Bamboo.

Ellen kept all of her UFO’s on the runway.  Forever in the Forest, a new pair of ModeSock socks, Bambinoo, (a self-designed baby blanket out of Be Sweet Bamboo),  Chain Mail gloves, and her Bohus reproduction named Many Moments of Grace.

The 6th UFO on Ellen’s project page bit her really hard.  (One could say the bite was so hard it needed stitches, but that belongs in a later design element.)  After reknitting the shoulders of Zipline, a sweater she is designing to use handspun from her stash, she was able to try it on.  It is apparent she forgot to plan appropriate ease, and now all that is left of the sweater is two sleeves and some hanks of frogged yarn which is washed and ready to rewind into cakes.   Jan’s Bitten by her Knittin’ was much more of the nibble category – some tinks on Reposo and a continued search for yarn to supply her Felfs in progress.  And some challenges in designing an afterthought heel into a lace pattern, but she thinks she has digested that sufficiently.
Jan continues to tease us about the Etsy shop, blaming a camera battery for her lack of posting.  She promises she will be ready by next episode.  Ellen thinks it is a pie crust promise – easily made, easily broken.  She’ll happily eat humble pie if she’s wrong.

In Negative Space, Jan assures us that sometimes quitting is winning.  That is a relief!

One of our favorite Design Principles is to swatch, swatch, swatch.  Ellen shares her approach to swatching for socks – casting on a sock cuff just big enough to hold two different swatch patterns and working one pattern on one half the stitches and the other on the other half.  One can continue with this tube, changing patterns as desired, and getting accurate in-the-round gauge with highly efficient use of knitting time and yarn.

Ellen used Cushing’s Perfection Acid dyes with citric acid to aid fixing the color to overdye several of the skeins of CorriedaleX handspun which she finished plying a few weeks back.  She followed the procedure in Wendy J. Johnson’s Yarn Works, and work it did, just perfectly.  The bobbin dyeing experiment was interesting, but as the dye simply didn’t penetrate far into the bobbin, it probably won’t be repeated.

She is spinning on, this time with a gorgeous top from All For the Love of Yarn in 80:20 merino:silk in the colorway Greek Mythology.  The current plan is to spin a 4-ply self-striping sock yarn.  She split the top end to end in 4 long strips.  It is slow going at the lace weight needed for the singles to end up with a 4-ply sock yarn, but the colors are highly amusing.

Ellen Embellished her kitchen with a Wüsthof whetstone .  After learning from a Youtube video, she did a stellar job of sharpening her knives, then she embellished her thumb with half a dozen stitches.  (Gauge was 8 sts/inch, by the way.)

For a bit of Slick Trick advice, Ellen suggests that when working with splitty yarn, think of your needle as pushing open a curtain rather than spearing a fish as you put it through the next stitch.  Leading with the side of the needle rather than the tip will lessen the frequency of splitting the yarn.

Check out the Living Doll KAL on the TwinSet Designs Ravelry group.  We’re creating little living dolls from Mary, Millie, and Morgan.  Jan is going to work up her daughter as a 4 year-old fashionista, Ellen is going to create her gang as adults, mostly because tiny surgical scrubs will be so amusing to knit.  Not to mention chef’s toques.

The Fashion Forecast is for fiber season.  For Ellen, this includes includes the Minnesota Yarn Shop Hop (April 10-13),  Yarnover (April 26), and the same weekend, StevenBe’s FiberFest.  Jan will be teaching classes at Flying Fibers – April 17 she teaches an introduction to entrelac class using the pattern she has long promised us and May 21 will offer a class on working with variegated yarn for planned color pooling.

Saving what may be the best for last, we announce the serious exploration of July 9-13 for the first TwinSet Summer Camp.  If there is interest, we may be scampering through the woods near Havre de Grace, Maryland with lots of fiber friends.  Interested?  Let us know on the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group.

Time to go spin – enjoy the show!

Episode 36 — Spring Forward!

In which we discuss the continuing cold weather, alpaca escapades, animal visitors, renewed work on UFOs, extreme knitting repair, four and a half miles of singles, improving the likelihood that a yarn substitution will be successful, the wonderful designs of Aurélie Colas, stick on pockets, Iditaknitting, and in which we enjoy a visit from Dr. Yarn.

Spring still hasn’t made it to MN, despite springing forward into daylight savings time.  Jan continued her grant proposal consulting work and rewarded herself with a little quiet knitting time…enjoying it until she noticed a herd of deer near the house.  And until she realized they were alpaca, not deer.  Turns out if you want to keep alpaca in the paddock, you need to close the gate.  Luckily, a mad dash and some barking dogs warded the alpaca away from the busy road and Jan was able to convince them to go back up the driveway around the traffic circle and right back into the pasture.

Suddenly the chicken’s are egg laying factories – Jan is getting about 8 eggs a day!

Ellen feels better about MN weather by keeping track of the Iditarod.  And the house finches are back and the gold finches are golding up, so maybe the weather will feel a lot better in the near future.

Jan has returned to Reposo, her version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater.  She is enjoying the Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool she is working it up in.  She has cast on for a new pair of socks in Wisdom Yarn’s Saki Bamboo.  She is also working on another pair of Felfs.

Ellen has all of her UFO’s on the runway – 7 in total.  Forever in the Forest, a new pair of ModeSock socks, Bambinoo, Many Moments of Grace, a self-designed sweater and some gloves.

Limpid, which is Ellen’s version of Martina Behm’s Lintilla, bit her, but she bit back.  Using a daredevil approach to fixing an error back in the knitting and around a corner, as well.  She dropped the joining stitches between the edge and the body of the shawlette so that she could then drop back to fix an errant stitch in the body.  It worked – how satisfying!  And the shawl is finished and posted on Ravelry.

Jan had some tinking to do, but nothing as heart-stopping as the Lintilla fix.

Or amputating fingers.  Ellen found that she had misplaced the pinky finger – didn’t have it on the edge of the glove and had to frog back and reposition the needles.

Jan again is running out of yarn for a pair of Felfs for Allen.  She just can’t find that other skein she was sure she had.

In Finely or Finally Knit, Jan has finished the knitting on Marie’s Felfs (if being clown-feet size is finished.  they still need to be fulled.)  Her big finish is her Oxen Soxen. Yes, she has a name for the pattern.  No pattern yet, but at least there is a name.

In addition to Limpid, Ellen has finished some fingerless mitts out of Claudia Handpaint.  She has creatively named the project, Tunisian Mitts.  The pattern is well on its way, and with luck, will soon be test knit.

Jan has been working on lots of different things for the Etsy shop, but she doesn’t quite have any Ready to Wear quite yet.  Shall we take up a pool and bet on when she will actually open shop?

Our sister, bab65, asked about yarn substitution and whether she could simply knit a larger size to account for a tigher gauge in her yarn.  We discussed swatching for gauge and for fabric characteristics, considering the amount of ease in the design to assess how close the calculations need to be, and in fitted garments, to consider the most critical dimensions to match.

Here is an example of checking to see if changing sizes will account for a different gauge in a new yarn.

Gauge in the pattern with specified yarn:  20 sts/4 in (5 st/in)

Gauge in the new yarn 22 sts/4in (5.5 st/in)

Let’s say FINISHED circumference at chest for small is 36″ and for medium is 40″, to fit a person who measures 32″ for the small and 36″ for the medium.

For the small, one would need 36*5=180 sts in the specified yarn and 36*6=216 st in the alternative yarn to go around the chest in the finished size of 36″.

For the medium, one would need 40*5.5=220 sts in the specified yarn to create  the finished size of 40″.

220 sts is really, pretty darn close to 216 sts especially in a sweater with 4″ positive ease.  It is not quite another inch added on.  The alternative yarn will probably work just knit at the size M to create a size S sweater.  If the alternative yarn were of a gauge that didn’t come so close to matching the stitch count in another size, you would want to do more calculations and adjust the pattern – or find another yarn.

Aurelie Colas, aka spinnygonzalez, is our Featured Designer this episode.  Check out her wonderful geometric and whimsical patterns, including Strips of Stripes, Christmas Scot-ing, and Sheepy Draughts and a Wolf, Too.  Check out these and other wonderful designs.  By the way, we said Aurelie is Scottish, but actually while she lives in Scotland, she is actually French.

If you listen to no other portion of this episode, do make time to hear some wisdom from Dr. Yarn, right around minute 40:00.  He tells us why there are so many breeds of sheep.  You can believe it, ’cause it is straight from Dr. Yarn.

In 360 degrees, Ellen was sucked right through the orifice and spun up all of the Enchanted Knoll top in merino:silk we mentioned last episode.  What looked like a mottled top resulted in rather clear color breaks once spun up.  Ellen split it in two and spun it worsted, then plyed the two together.  Surprisingly, the colors stayed clear and the yarn is going to be self-striping.  Ellen also finished up her CorriedaleX plying and has something like 2400 yds of light worsted to worsted weight yarn to play with.

Jan is Embellishing her life with Post-It Note Pockets.  What a great idea!

Ellen’s Fun Fur is Iditaknitting.  She-did-a-knitting on 6 projects!  As the mushers in the Iditarod cleared each of the checkpoints in the race (there are about 2 dozen), Ellen switched to a new project.  As a result, she is now back in gear on all of her UFO’s.

Check out the Living Doll KAL on the TwinSet Designs Ravelry group.  We’re creating little living dolls from Mary, Millie, and Morgan.
Ellen’s Fashion Forecast includes  a sheep shearing day on March 15 at Gale Woods Farm, Yarnover (April 26), and the same weekend, StevenBe’s FiberFest.  Jan will be teaching classes at Flying Fibers – March 20 she teaches toe-up socks and April 17 she teaches an introduction to entrelac class using the pattern she has long promised us.

In the meantime, enjoy the show!

Episode 35 — Show Notes to Follow


In which we discuss business trips with drive by yarn shop stops, discover we are both connected to an Indie dyer, alpaca barn parties, yet more snow, class with Abby Franquemont, cranking and spinning, cabled yarns, spinning wheel maintenance, a bit of outside work for Jan and a trip to the MN Closed Chess Championship for Wilson.  (Congrats, Wilson!)

Ellen is hungering for spring after Minneapolis got hit by the biggest storm of the season. But she had a wonderful class with Abby Franquemont to distract her from the weather.  And it was fun spinning through the class with LizzyRae, aka Lisa.  Jan didn’t enter her babies Violet and Sweet William in the national alpaca show, but she did enter photos in the national photo contest.  She’s added to her busy schedule with some consulting on a university proposal.  Ellen’s waiting to see how Wilson does in the MN Closed Chess Championship.

Ellen enjoyed seeing her niece and nephew and meeting a new beer, Hop Knot, while on a work trip in Arizona. She really enjoyed a visit to the Heard Museum of Native American Art and Culture.  And a visit to Tempe Yarn and Fiber where she got to add more beans to her diet – her yarn diet – with sock yarn dyed with black beans.

Jan made a boomerang trip to a party with some good friends in DC.  She forgot her knitting light for the journey back, but as tired as she was, that may have been for the best.  In shocking news, she and Dale made it the first mud sale of the year and didn’t buy anything!

The alpaca have  been having their own party – they broke into the barn and had quite the fiesta.

Jan has been working on socks, just like last episode.

Ellen has another Ravellenics project on her runway.  She’s knitting a chemo cap for a dear friend whose motto is “Knit 1, Kill 1 Billion”.   The cap is Shedir out of Rowan Calmer.  She also has the usual on her runway – Limpid which is her version of Martina Behm’s Lintilla ,and Forever in the Forest.  She also cast on another pair of socks out of Modeknit ModeSock yarn.

Group members have some great items on the runway – check out Scitchr’s Tempest and Turbogal’s Black and White in Motion.

Ellen was Bitten by her chemo cap Knittin’ –  she didn’t cast on the right number of stitches to allow the cables of the hat to flow out of the 1×1 rib so had to fudge a bit, then when it was time to decrease, she inadvertently left one side of the cable formation off the design.  Dropping down, converting some purls to the needed knits to allow a meandering knit stitch which she picked up in pattern, and all was well.  Jan had issues with cables, too – rows between turns and direction of cable turn seem to confuse her, even in her own design.

In Finely or Finally Knit, Ellen confirms that Shedir was finished.  It is a great hat!  And, she finished up her nascent sock design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.

This episode, the twins answered the What Would Listeners Ask question from Paintermom of how to maintain wheels.  Ellen recommended oiling all moving parts – but not sealed bearings.  Check your owner’s manual.  Jan recommended a good cleaning and a wax to prevent drying.  (There has been a good discussion on the TwinSet Designs Ravelry group as to whether this is a good idea – in humid climates, wax may encourage dust and tackiness).

In a discussion of filling the bobbin, we also discuss how to find your lost end.  First, don’t lose it.  When the singles breaks, keep treading, don’t stop.  A few more treadles and the end often is flung away from the wound mass and is easy to find.  And use a life-line – after making one pass of filling the bobbin, start back at the other end.  This leaves a length of singles running nearly perpendicular to the next pass of wound on singles.  If an end gets lost, it can’t be buried further down than that life line.

Jan reports that the fiber judging is finished and shipped.  Ellen talked more about her Abby class, focusing on cabled yarns.  The experiment which she found so intriguing followed this process:

Yarn A

  1. Spin 3 different singles, one wool, one silk and one ramie.  Spin these clockwise (Z-twist)
  2. Create a 3-ply yarn using these 3 singles.  Ply this counter-clockwise, or S-twist. Save plenty of each singles for Yarn B.
  3. Ply that 3-ply yarn back on itself, which is called cabling.  Ply in your original direction, clockwise or Z-twist.

Yarn B

  1. Using the wool single, make a 2-ply yarn spinning counter-clockwise or in an S-twist.  An Andean bracelet will be a slick way of achieving this for a sample length (see below).
  2. Do the same for the silk singles, then the ramie singles.
  3. Now using clockwise spinning (Z-twist), ply all 3 2-ply yarns together.

The difference in appearance of the two yarns is surprising, especially given that the fiber content is identical.

Ellen is also spinning up a skein of fingering weight yarn from a lovely top of silk/wool dyed by Enchanted Knoll Farm in Bruised Ego colorway.

In fiber jargon, Ellen clarified the difference between Andean plying and Andean bracelets.  In short, the people of the Andes use many techniques to  ply and to refer to Andean bracelets as “Andean plying” reduces the breadth of techniques that they use to just one technique which they would typically use for short lengths of singles.

Jan has a great embellishment – a Measuring Bracelet from JuniperGrace.  Ellen enjoys her iPhone app for Lumosity.

Jan’s Fun Fur is really, really fun.  Math with Bad Drawings.  Go look at it and laugh.  Ellen’s Fun Fur is Drive By Yarn Store Visits (see reference to Tempe Yarn and Fiber, above).  Ellen brought home some Sonoran Desert Dyed Fibers from Cheryl Griset – and found out that Cheryl is a buddy of Jan’s from when she lived in the West!

Jan’s slick trick is to tuck her ball of sock yarn into her first sock as she starts her second sock.  It is a just-in-time yarn bra!

The Living Doll contest winner is averill73, also known as Liz!  You can all be winners by buying the new e-book from Susan B. Anderson.  Check out “Mary, Millie and Morgan“to learn how to knit your own doll in a new TwinSet Designs KAL.  Check out the Ravelry Group thread.  The KAL will run through Summer Solstice, which occurs at 6:51 am Eastern Daily Savings Time.

Ellen’s Fashion Forecast includes  a sheep shearing day at Gale Woods Farm, Yarnover, and StevenBe’s FiberFest.  Jan will be teaching classes at Flying Fibers – March 20 she teaches toe-up socks and April 17 she teaches an introduction to entrelac class using the pattern she has long promised us.

In the meantime, enjoy the show!