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

Archive for June, 2014


Episode 42 — Cleaning Off the Needles


In which we discuss pre-summer vacation (for some of us), 3 blind mice sightings, multiple LYS visits to include the wall of Cascade (Natural Stitches in Pittsburgh, PA and Fibre Space in Alexandria, VA), the PA Women Veterans Symposium, family gatherings, nature hikes wherein all appendages are retained, achieving apprentice grader and sorcerer status, losing one’s car keys and the kindness of strangers who are now true friends and our living dolls.

Patterns of Our Lives:

Ellen and Wilson took a tour through some of the eastern States – spending time in West Virginia with Wilson’s parents, stopping in Athen’s Ohio (Ee-yow, Bobcats! Sock it to’em!), visiting Jan’s and Ellen’s mom in Marietta (and crossed paths with Jan while there), and then took the family to Washington, DC and then on to the Shenandoah Valley.  Highlights included a double sighting of Pileated Woodpeckers (Wilson’s uncle says when someone comes to him, a known avid birder, to tell him about the really weird bird they saw, his instant reply is “Pileated Woodpecker”), visits to the Heritage Farm Museum, and visits to the Smithsonian, seeing sights including Julia Child’s kitchen and the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz”.  Best part was all of the family who gathered, and this included another intersection with Jan when she and Dale were visiting the Dulles airport annex of the Air & Space Museum to attend an anniversary dinner of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association. That intersection included a visit to Fiber Space, Jan’s favorite Alexandria LYS.

Jan came to Pittsburgh for the symposium she has been planning, visited the knitting community found at Natural Stitches along with their wall of Cascade 220 AND several listeners(!), visited Jan’s and Ellen’s mom in Marietta (and crossed paths with Ellen while there), and reports that her PA Dept of Military and Veterans Affairs symposium went very well – its purpose, to bring together women veterans throughout Pennsylvania to help them understand their status as veterans and to what benefits they are entitled.  She and Dale then visited  the Dulles airport annex of the Air & Space Museum to attend an anniversary dinner of the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association, which ended up allowing another intersection with Ellen. That intersection included a visit to Fiber Space, Jan’s favorite Alexandria LYS.

While Ellen continued vacationing (driving the Skyline Drive – GORGEOUS! and yum, blackberry cobbler at the Big Meadows wayside), Jan went back to the farm to get a cutting of hay in, manage her chicklets (the little cockerels are getting quite, um, cocky), and then got on the road again to Ohio for another class in fiber grading and sorting at Magical Farms.  She is now an apprentice grader sorter. We are all so proud.

Both twins admit to losing and then finding items under embarrassing circumstances.  I’m not writing about it here – you’ll have to listen to it on the episode.  That said – we can’t recommend enough that you take your fiber to 84 Alpacas Mill to process any fleeces you have.  These folks are incredibly kind and generous.  And if you lose your keys, check your vehicle’s roof.  (Or down the side of your chair.)

Finely or Finally Knit:

Forever in the Forest is STILL just a block away from being finished.  But she did finish the second of a second pair of socks in her own design (Diana’s Quiver) out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.  She hopes the pattern will be available soon. She also finished a pair of baby bootees which she used to practice her newly acquired Portuguese knitting skills.

And Chef Jenny is all knit up! Her chef’s jacket is gusseted under the arms and even buttons, for real.

Jan was a finishing fool.  She completed her  version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater, Reposo, in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool  and also finished her little Marie doll.  Her glasses are removable as is her purse, such nice detail!  Jan needs to protect her from her grown daughter, Marie’s, sticky fingers.  It seems she wants to bring her effigy home to live with her.

Jan also finished a new pair of socks  in Zitron Trekking 75/25 superwash/polyamide, colorway 006, a barber-poling mix of blues, lime and purple.    They are staggered all over in a cable pattern.  She is thinking of calling the pattern (when it comes out – hah!) Snake Socks.  Watch for them, but don’t hold your breathe.  And she finished her Faux Argyle hood, which she is using as a class sample for her Controlling Your Colors class.

On the Runway:

As always, Ellen continues work on her Bohus reproduction named Many Moments of Grace, a reproduction of the Rimfrost design. She is quite proud of how the sleeves are going (note: pride goeth before a fall – as these show notes were written several weeks after the recording, we know of what we speak). And, she is working on a wrap which she used to practice lever knitting (Wrapsody in Be Fabulous by Steven Berg), which she learned in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s class.

Jan is working on a Greek Key patterned hat to thank the hero in her lost item story.   She is also working on the Holbrook Shawl in the yarn, The Uncommon Thread Silky Merino Fingering, which she purchased at Fiber Space with Ellen’s encouragement.

Is it possible that the twins could really and truly Clean Off their Needles???  They sound like they are making a bit of a commitment to do so…

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen re-finished her Forever in the Forest stole.  After nine years, she had learned a lot about how to use a long-tail cast on as an elastic edge, but she started the stole before she learned all that and so, the sewn bind off was much stretchier than the cast on edge at the other side of the stole. So, she picked up one leg of each st in the first row of the stole and then very carefully snipped and unravelled the cast on edge. She then used what were now the equivalent of live stitches on the needle to do an equivalent sewn bind off and now both edges are truly identical in stretch and appearance.

She also did a lot of repair work for knitting bitten by dogs and cats – executing a detailed and pretty darned good repair to a major gash in the Cowl for George Bailey she had knit for her sister-in-law, if she does say so herself.  This entailed knitting a new lace panel and weaving each and every row into the undamaged portion of the cowl.  She also repaired a friend’s mitten after stealing a bit of yarn from the inside of the mitten cuff facing so the repair wouldn’t be visible.

Jan barely had any issues – nibbles on the I-cord edge of Reposo, pulling out the i-cord edge after working about 15 inches and working it from the other side of the garment, which she liked better.  And it seems that working lace late at night remains a bad idea, as she had to correct some mistakes in the working of the edging on the Holbrook shawl.

Fiber Jargon:

Jan talked about guard hairs – primary hair, kemp, and gare.  Primary and secondary hairs are simply hairs coming from a primary or secondary follicle.  This doesn’t determine whether the hair is fine or stiff – medulation (being hollow) does.  Hollowness makes it rigid.  Guard hairs are fibers that support the softer fibers and protect them from the elements, kemp shows up mixed in with the fleece and is flat and coarse, and gare is quite similar, but is more associated with particular regions of the animal’s body. Jan points out again that the feeling of fineness is more related to the consistency of the fibers one to the next than specifically to the diameter of the fiber. If two samples are equally consistent, then the smaller diameter fiber will likely feel finer, too.  But if one sample is consistent and the other, though having finer diameters of fibers, is inconsistent, the former sample may feel softer and finer.

Slick Tricks:

Jan’s slick trick is to substitute another yarn or binding off and save a bit of yarn if you are running short and playing Yarn Chicken.  Ellen’s trick is to reduce the bulk when cinching the remaining stitches on a hat crown or a finger-tip by using the tip of a needle to tighten each stitch on the yarn cinch before tightening the loop.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Congratulations, Gayle, on her selection as winner of the Living Doll KAL.

For Jan, The Fashion Forecast is exciting but not as crazy as some weeks.  She will be adding some sheep to the farm soon – 4 new lambies!  Ellen is doing some travel for work and then comes home to lead a learn-along for her Paving Mitts pattern at StevenBe.

And don’t forget…TwinSet Summer Camp!

The first TwinSet Summer Camp is a go – from July 11-13 near Havre de Grace, Maryland. It will be smashing, with camp songs and crafts and swimming and hiking and you don’t have to do any of that if you’d rather knit!  Sunday afternoon we will all visit the farm which is less than an hour from camp.  Information is on the retreat page at the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group.

Enjoy the show!

Episode 41 — Podcaster Shout Out!


In which we mention many other podcasters, and in which we discuss squirrel kings, sailboats, shorn alpaca and sheep, getting our hackles up, visits by fast knitting friends, not buying a fleece and then buying one after all, a daughter-in-law hiking the Appalachian trail, sealing up our fine fiber and TwinSet Summer Camp!

Patterns of Our Lives:

Jan had Memorial Day weekend alone as her husband and son sailed a friend’s boat to Maine.  Jan did make new knitting friends in a class on Controlling Your Colors at Flying Fibers .  Her daughter-in-law is hiking the Appalachian Trail – check out her adventures at Adventures of Heidi Galore.

Ellen saw an Indigo bunting at her backyard feeder – quite a thrill.  And she saw an anomaly of nature – a squirrel king.  This is the rare instance where a nest of baby squirrels get tangled tails, possibly because pine resin has stuck them together.  She called the local animal control squads for assistance.

The baby squirrels were cute – but not as cute as baby alpacas after shearing.  Laura (LauraKnitsPA) came and helped Jan shear the herd.  William looks like a cotton swab with his fluffy head on a long thin neck.  His fleece is gorgeous – but filthy!  Valor’s (the Finnsheep ram) is gorgeous and Ellen has already bought it.

Ellen’s keeping those filthy moths away from her precious Bohus kits in gasketed waterproof containers.

Finely or Finally Knit:

Jan started and finished a project for her Controlling Your Colors class.  She knit a Faux Argyle hood – her own pattern in yarn from Persimmon Tree Farm – “Potluck” which is a 50/50 mohair/wool.

Ellen and Erica (Desigknit) whipped up a cute little Whitfield Shorty Jacket by Anne Hanson.  They worked it in the new Briar Rose yarn of Targhee wool.  Erica knit the sleeves and the pocket, Ellen knit the fronts, back, and collar.  Done in less than a week!

Forever in the Forest is just a block away from being finished!

On the Runway:

Jan continued on her new pair of socks started in Zitron Trekking 75/25 superwash/polyamide, colorway 006, a barber-poling mix of blues, lime and purple.    She’s doing the socks in a staggered all over cable pattern.

Ellen continues working on the second of a second pair of socks in her own design out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.  She hopes the pattern will be available soon. She cast on a pair of baby bootees to practice her newly acquired Portuguese knitting skills, and a wrap to practice lever knitting (Wrapsody in Be Fabulous by Steven Berg), which she learned in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s class.

Jan’s version of Carol Feller’s Siesta sweater, Reposo, in Louisa Harding Grace Silk & Wool is nearly done and Jan worked on a purse for her little Marie doll.

Ellen is continuing her design, Chain Mail gloves, and is testing the pattern as she goes.  Her Portuguese Baby Booties seam to be done – except for the seams.

Bitten by our Knittin’:

Ellen learns, yet again, that it is useful to follow an expert designer’s pattern as her variations to the Whitfield Shorty turned around and bit her. Tiny errors may have crept in, at least until she and Erica actually followed Anne’s directions.

Jan barely had any issues – a mis-crossed cable or two, but that’s all.

360 Degrees:Ellen had day dreams about what she will do with Valor’s fleece. Her plans include a gentle wash followed by combing.  She’ll use a hackle and hand comb. Check out several videos (Forsythe Woolen Combs) on how elegant this fiber prep can be.

Slick Tricks:

Ellen shared how Lisa (turbogal) saved her Black & White sweater that stretched in the blocking – superwash wool will sometimes tighten back up if it is thrown in the dryer.

Jan’s slick trick was to select the perfect size of O-ring from a variety pack to put on the shaft of her bobbin winder to hold various bobbins in place on it.

You May Already be a Wiener!

Jan now has a doll for the Living Doll KAL, though it does need clothes.  Check out the Twinset Designs Ravelry group where we are creating little living dolls from Mary, Millie, and Morgan.  the KAL will end with the Summer Solstice, and the prize will be a Susan B. Anderson pattern (single pattern) of the winner’s choice along with a copy of the Pam Allen book, Scarf Style.

For Jan, The Fashion Forecast means continuing her crazy schedule – on June 6-8 she’ll be in Pittsburgh for the PA Women Veterans Seminar and plans to visit Natural Stitches near Philadelphia .

The first TwinSet Summer Camp is a go – from July 11-13 near Havre de Grace, Maryland. It will be smashing, with camp songs and crafts and swimming and hiking and you don’t have to do any of that if you’d rather knit!  Sunday afternoon we will all visit the farm which is less than an hour from camp.  Information is on the retreat page at the  Twinset Designs Ravelry group. We are still finalizing cost details, so no registration form yet, but watch this space for it!

Enjoy the show!