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

Episode 31 — Bitten by Our Kittens

In which we discuss our good fortune at Christmastime and in the opening days of 2014, Valor the Ram, a strategy for giving, the great alpaca drop of 2014, getting back to work on some big knitting projects, our review of 2013 and our goals for 2014, how to take stock and why you should eat more beans.

(Be sure to listen to the outtakes if you want to understand the title!)

Happy New Year to old and new listeners.  If you don’t get enough of us on the podcast, find us on Twitter and Instagram as, you guessed it, twinsetjan and twinsetellen.

There were lots of holiday doings for both Jan and Ellen, but we’ll just hit a couple of notable things from the last week.

Ellen and Wilson spent a long evening working out their charitable giving for the year of 2013.  Just in time, too, as they finished up on December 30!  Here is their strategy:

  • We choose a few themes that mean a lot to us.  Generally we focus on the environment, arts and education, human justice and aid, and fair politics.
  • We choose highly rated charities working in these areas by geography - local, national, and global.  Charity Navigator is one site we use for research on the efficiency and integrity of charities we are considering.
  • We narrow down to just a few in each theme/geography, the fewer the better, with the goal of giving larger sums to fewer charities.  This lets more of our dollars get used for program work and less on administrivia.
  • We avoid giving to charities that waste our dollars with dozens of mailings during the year, or gifts of notecards, nickels, stamps, etc.

Jan and Dale made a trip to Syracuse and brought home a new member of the family - Valor, a Finnsheep Ram!  He rode home in Dale’s Dodge Ram and is friendly as all get out.

In On the Runway, Ellen worked on her Forever in the Forest stole out of Misti Alpaca lace weight and based on the Forest Path Stole by Faina M. Letoutchaia.  Jan  worked on her Fog Lights sweater; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson.  She is working on another pair of Hugs and Kisses Socks and promises a pattern, if she can figure out a name.  And she’s working on a hat featuring Jagger Spun 100% wool and an eye of partridge pattern.  She’s calling it Surface Tension and promises a pattern soon.  Ellen is also working on a Martina Behm pattern, Lintilla in Rohrspatz & Wollmeise 100% Merino Superwash in the colorway Skarabäus, which is brilliant clear and limpid blues and greens with streaks of yellow, hence the name of her shawl, Limpid.

Jan and Ellen were both Bitten by their Knittin’.  (And Ellen was bitten by her Kitten - Selkie enjoys playing in roving, and played with one of Ellen’s holiday gifts.  Let’s just say that alpaca will be used for blending, not for spinning right from the bump…)  Ellen’s knitting troubles focused around her lack of focus, at least when coming to the edge of her Lintilla shawl. One edge is k2tog, one is kfb - suffice it to say that though they look very different, Ellen mixed them up and then didn’t notice for several rows more than once.  Jan couldn’t quite get the sewn bind off for Dale’s scarf to look just the way she wanted.

You can still get a free copy of Ellen’s Bitsy Baby Beanies , a quick stockinette beanie for preemies and newborns.  Listen to the episode to find the code for a free copy through January, or PM Ellen on Ravelry (she’s twinsetellen).

Ellen added a few more bobbins of CorriedaleX singles to her collection.  She reported 25 at last count with about a half pound of fiber left.

In Design Principles, Ellen discussed the principles she is following in the design of socks out of a variegated yarn - primarily focused on looking for a stitch pattern that will highlight the color changes while obscuring pooling and has a manageable stitch multiple to allow easy sizing.  She is looking hard at stitch patterns that carry the working yarn on top of the fabric at intervals, like linen stitch, but would like to find one that is easier to work.

Our Design Challenge for the episode is to consider 2014 intentions.  Jan sums hers up with an intention to be appreciative, and Ellen twisted that just slightly with an overall intention to be grateful.  Both of us intend to knit and design and spin…and laugh.

Ellen has been spinning a bunch more of that CorriedaleX fleece from Rhinebeck a couple of years back.  She’s up to 25 bobbins with about a half pound of fiber left.  Jan will be doing a bunch of spinning as she takes on judging the entries in the Sunshine State Alpaca Expo, with her results due by February 8th!  In either case, pigtails, our Yarn Jargon for the week, will likely appear.  Pigtails are when an energetic bit of singles (or a plyed yarn) doubles back on itself in a little twist.  Depending on your intention for the yarn, they may be desirable (as in art yarn), or at least a sign of lots of energy for creating a tightly twisted yarn, like a sock yarn.  Just ease them out during plying to release the energy into where you want it to be.

Jan’s Embellishment for the week is Heifer International.  Ellen’s is the iPhone Ravelry app - Yarma.  She uses it to add stash and project pictures without having to download them from her camera. Zombie Alpacas (We want to eat your grains!) showed up on a gift for Jan and she considers them to be Fun Fur.

The episode’s slick trick is a simple one, but still slick.  Instead of hanging one of those stitchmarker row counters off your needle, throwing it out of balance and letting it get in the way, why not just pin it to your project?  It’s there when you need it and keeps the knitting comfortable.  Thanks, turbogal, for that tip!

The contest to win some Blacker Yarns wool has closed and we have a winner!  Holity, aka Terri from IL, was our randomly drawn winner of a skein each of Blacker Yarns Pure Teeswater DK and Pure Dark Wensleydale.

Ellen will be heading to the Knitajourney Midwinter Fiber Retreat in mid-January, and by the time these notes go up, Jan will have been to the PA state farm show  and starting to pack for Tina’s Fiber Retreat in late January.  It’s only 8 months till the MN State Fair!

Stay warm!

Episode 30 — We Believe!

In which we discuss the return of the light (and the owls), ice lanterns, the great Weaver’s Guild of Minnesota fiber estate sale, finally receiving processed fiber from the spring shearing, Christmas visits, what’s in Ellen’s pocketses, the best Christmas card ever,  seeing Santa Claus, publication of Ellen’s pattern “Bitsy Baby Beanies”, successful design modifications and a winner of the Swagger DALKAL, some knitting and spinning and Ellen endures Jan’s singing.

“Come Enhance My Yarn Stash Tonight”
Lyrics (c) Jan Hamby — Free use for non-commercial and personal uses.  Rights to publication reserved.
Instrumental background from the Helen Kane audio recording found in the U.S. National Archives licensed under the Creative Commons. 

Santa Baby, slip some cashmere under the tree, For me.
I’ve been an awfully good girl, Santa baby,
so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Santa baby, some signature convertibles too,
Size 2.
I’ll wait up for you dear,
Santa baby, so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Think of all the things that I might’ve knit,
Hats and scarves and sweaters and fingerless mitts,
Next year I could reduce my queue,
And maybe you’ll find, you’re knitworthy too,

Santa baby, I wanna Schacht,
And really that’s not a lot,
Been an angel all year,
Santa baby, so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Santa honey, there’s one thing I really do need,
The deed
To a local yarn store,
Santa honey, so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Santa cutie, fill my stocking with some rolags,
And project bags   .
Skeins of handpainted too,
Santa cutie, come enhance my yarn stash tonight.

Come and trim my Christmas tree,
With lots of pretty stitch markers bought just for me,
I really do believe in you,
Let’s see if you believe in me too,

Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing,
I don’t mean wandering round,
Santa baby, so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.,
so come enhance my yarn stash tonight.,
Yarn stash, tonight.

Ellen reported on the stupendous estate sale held at the Weaver’s Guild of MN.  She didn’t buy much, but she did bring home a gorgeous supported Tibetan spindle made by Spindlewood Co.  She baked the few skeins of yarn she bought in her oven warming drawer (temps above 140-160F for several hours will ensure that no clothes moths survive).

Jan brought home fiber from Gurdy Run Farm and Woolen Mill - alpaca from her own alpaca’s fleeces.

Lots of cookie baking going on, including cookies that Ellen’s daughter Jenny created for Red Rooster Harlem.  Ellen’s other daughter, Karen’s, first authorship  on magnesium sulfate and cerebral palsy prevention in pregnancy wasn’t as recent as Ellen had thought - but Ellen is still proud.

Jan tries to convince Santa, Baby to enhance her yarn stash right around minute 15:15.

In On the Runway, Ellen worked on her Forever in the Forest stole and Jan had Dale’s linen stitch scarf as monogamous knitting.

Ellen finished up Chunkeanie, a reverse stockinette beanie by Wooly Wormhead, knit in Kashmir Aran. Also out of Kashmir Aran, she knit up Entrechat by Lisa Chernery.  She used the Knitters Pride Karbonz dpns in size 8, liked the feel of these needles but found them noisy and clinky. And she finally finished her Fat Soled Felfs.  The double weight soles felted a bit less than the single weight uppers, resulting in very pointy toes and heels - very elvish.  And very good fitting! These were out of Ewetopia, and it felted beautifully.  She dried her Felfs in her warming drawer!

Ellen got a pattern up for sale in 2013!  Bitsy Baby Beanies is a quick stockinette beanie with a wide ribbed edge and simple to execute 4-point decrease.  Listen to the episode to find the code for a free copy through January.

After discussing the design principles used in creating Bitsy Baby Beanies, we challenge our listeners to give thought to their design for 2014.

Jan finished up her cabled yarn, and Ellen added a few more bobbins of CorriedaleX singles to her collection.  She reported 19 bobbins (but a later count gave 20) with over a pound of fiber left.  Spindling on a Kuchulu (Jenkins Spindles) during conference calls gave her about 250 yards of fine laceweight yarn in the last few months, and she also continued spinning on her Lark for a heavier weight yarn.

Both twins agree - a niddy noddy is a useful tool for spinners and knitters alike.

Jan loves her embellishment for the week - the Brother P-Touch label maker.

Ellen discovered that dishcloths made out of Bernat Tizzy is a great way to find a scrubby in a sink of dirty dishwater.

Ellen’s slick trick was the slipped stitch edge in the Entrechat sweater by Lisa Chernery.  Instead of the way Ellen had originally learned, Lisa had the knitter slip the last stitch of a row and knit the first.  Jan’s trick makes linen stitch easier to knit.  She simply always works from the knit side, doing this either by clipping her yarn with about a 6″ end at the end of the row and sliding (on a circular needle) back to the start of the row to work the next row.  The tails at either end make a ready made fringe.  For working in the round, steek stitches can be added that can then be unraveled to create fringe after the steek is cut.

In the DALKAL, woolybear368 aka Mary, from Massachusetts, won for her Keyhole Swagger.  She converted a buttonhole scarf out of a bulky yarn.

Better blogger, even better buttonhole…

Dear Jan,

I know you find it shocking that I am actually posting to the blog two weeks in a row.  Considering that I have a strong closure impulse, and to really close out on the story of my Blue Moons cardigan I needed to live up to my promise for a tutorial on dropping back to add buttonholes, you shouldn’t be all that surprised.  (Of course, given my recent history of posting, I guess maybe you should be!)

Recall that I had knit Blue Moons, my version of the Veronik Avery Forestry cardigan,  with a lot of dithering about whether I wanted buttons or not.  I’d actually knit most of the front band when I did an about face and decided I wanted to use buttons and buttonholes for a double-breasted jacket.  That front band went from bottom right, around a very deep shawl collar, and down to the lower left - long rows that I’d need to frog and re-knit in order to knit those buttonholes in the right places.   With only 8 rows to drop back (unlike for the missed cable cross in my previous post), I preferred to wrangle dropped stitches than slog through all that knitting again.

I used the buttonhole described in a Knitting Daily tutorial for 2×2 ribbing.  After marking the stitch to the right of the buttonhole, I dropped back the 4 columns required. I had all the stitches for the band on a long circular and had adjusted the needle opening to be right at the buttonhole before I started, so I could use the left needle tip to hold onto those 4 lives stitches.


Starting on the right side of the work, I used the first long bar of yarn (be careful - don’t pick them up out of the original order in which they were knit) to work an SSK in the first two stitches, then a double yarnover, then K2tog.  It still looks like 4 stitches, but the middle two are that double yarnover.

After flipping the sweater over so I now had the wrong side facing me, I picked up the next loose bar (again, careful about the order!) and purled two stitches together, did another double yarnover, and then did a slip slip purl.  Yes, this left my double yarnover from the first row dangling.  Flipping the sweater again,  I now worked one knit stitch, (following the ribbing pattern), a knit stitch into the first yarnover (catching the dangling yarn), and a purl stitch into the second yarn over (again, catch that dangler) and end with a knit one.


From here on out I just worked in pattern to use up the other dropped bars of yarn.  It worked out really slick, and a side benefit was it let me get the entire buttonhole worked in one concentrated space of time rather than having long stretches of band knitting in between steps.

It didn’t keep me from having long spans of time between blog posts, but maybe I’ve reversed that trend.



Episode 29 — Hats a Lot of Knitting!

In which we discuss* our Thanksgiving celebration, knitwear on fire, alpaca with trench-o-phobia, cold and snowy weather, planning to make the most of your knitting time, shades of colors, crispy duck skin and foregone conclusions for the outcome of the Army-Navy game.  (Navy will win, in case you are wondering!)

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but when your turkey was 42 lbs, you just don’t forget it very quickly.  Jan and Ellen relate the fun of family and food and more food…and more food.

After getting home, Ellen and Wilson caught Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Ellen ogled the knitwear. The first scene in particular featured a fabulous cowly-shawly thing.  Click on the link - a picture definitely tells more than these words.

Jan is happy to have water in her barn even if the alpaca weren’t so happy about the trenching needed to run the lines.

In Ellen’s knit group, Carrie (aka prjstartercarrie) finished up her version of StevenBe’s Mermaid Shawl.

We get a little competitive over who has donated more to Community Links International (an environmental, service-learning, immersion, volunteer, and international educational organization supported by the good folks at Frog Tree Alpaca) through Goodsearch.  You can join the competition by registering on the site (it’s free, and every internet search you make throws another penny in the till).

In On the Runway, Ellen worked on her Forever in the Forest stole and gave her  Great Dayne sweater some attention, too.

Jan  worked on her Fog Lights sweater; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson.  She is working on another pair of Hugs and Kisses Socks and promises a pattern, if she can figure out a name, and also worked on a scarf for Dale.

Ellen knit lots and lots of hats - using Kashmir Aran and the Purl Soho pattern, Thank You Hat - Simple Rib, for two of them, doing another one in Sirdar Click Chunky with Wool in yet-to-be-published hat design by Mary Lou Egan, and knitting a preemie hat and a baby hat with remnants of that Kashmir Aran and a pattern of her own device.

Jan finished up Stroll, 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.

And Ellen has finished the knitting of her double-soled Felfs despite a false start… or two.

In the new segment, Ready to Wear, Jan announced that her Stream Bed Lace Shoulder Stole pattern is now available for purchase.

Stephen Robbins of Pelindaba Lavender was our guest for the Five Minute Interview at about minute 28:30 or so.

Jan and Ellen discuss the various types of colorways -variegated, ombres, and tonal.  Examples of these yarns include Morehouse Farms Merino Variegated Morehouse Merino 2-ply (variegated),  Berocco Ultra Alpaca Tonal (tonal), and Wooltopia Ombre Gradients (Ombre).

Check out the details of PineSlayerDee’s latest slick trick (or at least the latest one on which we have reported) - felting in a dryer - at her post on Ravelry.

Don’t forget to get a chance at winning a skein of Blacker Yarns wool!  Make a comment in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group thread for the Blacker Yarns contest - tell us what yarns you like, and for a bonus entry, comment on something interesting you learned on their website in a separate post. (edited 1/5/14 - Contest is now closed.) Ann aka anarch on Ravelry already was a winner of the Stitchmaps contest.*And all in less than an hour!

Bad blogger, good fix…

Dear Jan,

I believe it has been about 3 months since I promised a bit of a photo tutorial on how to fix a cable long after the sweater is finished. Sorry it has taken so long, but better late than never, eh?

Here is the cable - missing its cross, but only discovered about 15 inches later.  Sure, you could have dropped down and cabled them all again, and I could have, too, but I don’t know that my marriage would have survived the aggravation that would accompany such a maneuver.  Instead, how about just hiding the mistake?



First step - pick up a row of stitches the width of the cable immediately above the last correct cross.  Pick these up through the sweater - put the needle right through the center of the stitch and draw a loop up from yarn held below the sweater.



Now knit the proper number of rows until you’d normally cross the cable.  You’ll form a little flap.  You can use the working yarn that you used to form the loops - just pull an end up through the fabric from the back.  It won’t take much to do this fix, just a foot or so of yarn.



When you get to the row where you’d normally cross the cable, go ahead and cross it.



Now, neatly and tidily, graft the flap right into place, matching rows.



Weave in the end, and it will take more than a casual observer to ever find this fix.


That fixed the cable, but I’m not sure it will fix my blogging frequency.  We’ll see.



Episode 28 — Podcasting Across the Pond

In which we abandon our usual format to welcome a fellow podcaster to the microphone. You’ll have to listen to find out who it is! And in which we discuss what’s going on on both sides of the Atlantic, a bit more about ourselves, and of course, our knitting.

Special guest - Louise from Caithness Craft Collective!

In the Patterns of our Life/Wots e Craic section, Louise describes the long process of making bunting for school decorations…with the help of the children.  No children were harmed in the production of the bunting.  Jan told about the flight south (to the basement freezer) of her flock of turkeys.  Ellen told of a fun evening eating cupcakes with Bevil and then laughing through a Franklin Habit lecture on Victorian craft oddity.

Louise is knitting on a Harry Potter scarf in the Gryffindor colorway. Ellen is working on Felfs and finds that if one is going to get fancy with Felfs, stitch markers are in order. She is making the sole double weight by using Susan Newhall’s Blended Intarsia technique. Jan  worked on her Fog Lights sweater; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson.

Ellen reported on some SKY KNITTING - finishing a little hat based on the pattern Grateful out of Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran.  Jan continued working on Stroll, 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.

Ellen was Bitten by her Knittin’ again when she worked on her Forever in the Forest stole. She is blaming the poor lighting on the airplane. Louise has an Owls sweater in progress, but as it has nibbled her (the decreases got out of order), it is in time out. Her mum had been bitten by knittin’ a mitten, rather, a fingerless glove, in which the fingers got a bit long.

In a fairly long MeMeMeYouYouYou section, the ladies chat about their careers, their dogs, and even the Great Scottish Tapestry.

Louise’s Fun Fur was yellow acrylic yarn for some Despicable Me minion hats.  Jan’s was a punny novel by Michael Shepherd, Easy Street.

We Purloined Purloined - the Knitmore Girls podcast segment - by purloining High Note, Low Note from Paula of the Knitting Pipeline.

We close out the show with a discussion of haggis.  ‘Nuff said.

Episode 27 — Knock, Knock…

In which we extend our thoughts and prayers to those affected by storms near and far, and in which we discuss nasty colds, prolonged podcasting absence, rapid Master Knitter responses and successes, the end of an era in which Solveig reigned in the world of Bohus, responsible use of GPS and liquor, Finnsheep, the Knitting Pipeline Maine Retreat, visiting with dear friends, Blacker Yarns, designing colorwork mitts and more!!

Wow, this is another long episode.  Getting sick gets in the way of all sorts of things - we are glad Jan is feeling more like her spunky self!

You can help all the communities affected by the tornadoes and typhoons by donating what you can to relief organizations, including for tornado relief at Crossroads United Methodist Church.  And in the line of supporting good causes, don’t forget to check out The Art of Felfs, and consider buying it to support cancer research.

Jan and Ellen’s family grew by leaps and bounds - sister, niece and grandniece added to the gang as the Knitmore Girls joined the family.

The news that Solveig Gustafson is retiring from dyeing the reproduction yarns for the Bohus Stickning reproductions hit the knitting world hard.  Cherish those kits if you have them!  Don’t worry, Susanna Hansson will still be teaching her wonderful Bohus Stickning class.  And Kimmet Croft offers a heavier gauge yarn for many of the designs.

Ellen celebrated her completion of the Master Knitter Level II course.  (Lisa will be done any day now!)

Ellen did more than knit these last few weeks - she sewed, too!  Holiday napkins and also a knitting project bag, nicely lined and zipped.  Tutorial here and here.

Jan’s family continues to grow even more - by one cat as Heidi and Marie move to an apartment that only allows two cats and they need to leave one behind with Jan and Dale and in the spring by 4 or 5 Finnsheep.  The contract on the lamb purchase is signed and Jan gets the pick of the litter.

Jan took a trip east to her buddy Heidi’s where she lolled about Iron Horse Yarns to celebrate her successful navigation without a real map.  Putting one’s trust in a GPS takes faith.

Jan had that faith, and made her way up to Maine where she enjoyed the Knitting Pipeline Retreat with stops at Saco River Farms and Saco River Dyehouse, Tess Yarns,  connections to knitters like Hannah Fettig and Pam Allen, and I understand they all ate Magic Cake.  It seems that if you town is named Portland, you are in a fabulous fiber city.  And that was without even mentioning the wonderful knitters Jan enjoyed at the retreat.  If you want a taste of how wonderful they were, check out woolybear368’s videocast.  She was the perfect roommate for Jan.

Both of us had lots on the runway.  Jan is working on Stroll, 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.  She’s also working on a linen stitch scarf for Dale.   Jan also worked on her Fog Lights sweater; the original design is the Green Mist pullover by Kerstin Olson.  And of course, Jan is working on some more Felfs.  Ellen is also doing Felfs, making the sole double weight by using Susan Newhall’s Blended Intarsia technique. She is using Frog Tree Ewetopia, a 50:50 merino:superwash merino blend (great for felting!).

Ellen made great progress on her  Great Dayne sweater and it is becoming a real sweater - now with sleeves!  She has developed an I-cord edging that includes the lacy cable from the raglan seams.   She is well on her way to finishing her Tunisian crochet mitts and hopes to have a pattern out soon. Her friend Cammy brought a blending board to knit group, and Ellen blended, spun and then knit a little holiday ornament.

Forever in the Forest is got a bit more attention from Ellen as well.

Ellen was bitten by her knittin’ when she failed to follow her own design intentions while working on her self-designed colorwork mitts out of Blacker Yarns Pure Teeswater DK and Pure Dark Wensleydale.  She finished an adult hat using the pattern Grateful out of Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran which is a merino, microfiber, cashmere chain-structure yarn that is machine washable.  With the remnants she designed a little preemie or tiny newborn hat, which she calls Grateful for Babies.  She also knit a tiny bag out of a swatch kit for the Scilla Bohus design.  It fits her cell phone perfectly.

In the new design element, Swatcha Doin’?, Jan and Ellen review the yarns Ellen with which is knitting her colorwork mitt design. Both are DK weight, worsted spun, in 50 g skeins that are 119 yds in length.  Lustrous, haloed, and supple and strong - both twins enjoyed the yarns a lot.  Ellen, as mentioned, is designing a colorwork mitt of the two, they worked so well together.  The Blacker Yarns website is a delight and so full of information - go check it out right now!

For a bit of Negative Space, Ellen shared the value of untangling one’s projects as well as one’s life - freeing up space for knitting.

In Design Principles, Ellen discussed the principles she is following in the design of her colorwork mitts - everything from yarn choice to techniques used for what is to be a simple knit and how to adapt for varying gauges by stitch pattern.

There is other designing going on in the DALKAL - the Design-Along, Knit-Along of Swagger.  Check out the Ravelry group for details on this contest for a skein of Wollmeise!

Check out the Knitting Daily post on the Shirley Paden Design-Along to see a photo and the process Ellen finished in creating her SPDAL3 sweater.

Ellen has been very busy with her spinning - much more of her CorriedaleX on her Louet Victoria, a BFL roving on her great wheel, Cat (Catherine the Great…Wheel), and some more BFL on her Turkish Spindle.   Jan has been spinning Corriedale, too, in brilliant greens.  She did these on her Kromski wheel and plans to ply them and then cable those plies.  Fiber Jargon for the week is “liquor”, aka the dyebath.

Ellen is enjoying her new water oven, the Sous Vide Supreme Demi.  Jan is thinking her turkeys will weigh out to 14-24 lbs, probably too big for this.

In Fun Fur, Ellen exclaimed with joy over her Blue Moon’s Fiber Arts Rockin’ Whorl club delivery.  She forgot she’d joined the club! Jan’s FF is Words with Friends, an app for smartphones that let you play word games with friends.

Jan’s Slick Trick saves you from having to figure out where to pick up stitches in a thumb for a mitt.  In the first row after casting to create the thumb, instead of just knitting in the newly cast on stitches, kfb in each. On the next round, separate the stitches and put the purl stitches on one needle, ready to knit the thumb, and the others on the needle that is knitting the hand of the mitt.   You are all ready to knit the thumb!

And you are ready to gain a chance at winning a skein of Blacker Yarns wool!  Make a comment in the Twinset Designs Ravelry group thread for the Blacker Yarns contest - tell us what yarns you like, and for a bonus entry, comment on something interesting you learned on their website in a separate post.

The Stitch Maps contest continues - check out the contest thread quickly, as it is due to close the end of November which technically, already took place.

Thanksgiving will find Ellen and Jan together and recording with a virtual guest for the next podcast.  Tune in and find out who it is!


Ellen and Jan

Bohus Baby…

Dear Jan,

Once upon a time there was a woman married to a kind hearted man.  The woman knew what she wanted most for a special gift -  a Bohus sweater.  The kind hearted man wanted to please that woman, beyond her wildest expectations, so he gave her not just a Bohus sweater, but the matching hat.  Such was her delight to receive Den Grönsiska* in a matching set that some time later she had her portrait made with her firstborn while wearing the lovely garments. 


The woman loved many people, including family and friends, and later in life she in turn gave the hat to a friend.  Even later, that friend knew someone who would cherish that hat just as much as the woman, and they gave it to my dear friend, Susanna, who shared story and hat with me during my recent visit.

And that is the story of how I got to hold and admire this hat myself, quite some time ago now, but still fresh in my memory.  Bohus magic.



*Green Finch

Never bored with Bohus…

Dear Jan,

As you are well aware, the knitting world saw another bit of history this month.  On November 2, Solveig Gustafson announced that several of the Bohus reproduction kits which she has meticulously created in collaboration with the Bohusläns Museum, would no longer be available.  In short order, the list of available kits grew shorter and shorter as word spread (much of the spreading occurring on the Ravelry Bohus group) that she had decided to enter a more relaxed period of life with time for other creative pursuits.  And then the museum had to start marking its stock of Solveig’s kits as unavailable, too, as Bohus devotees swamped their website in search of one more lovely kit.  At the time I write this post, every kit except Mountain Peaks on Solveig’s site is now unavailable, and I believe the museum is also out of stock.

Many in the Bohus-loving portion of the knitting world  are wishing they’d ordered a kit or two more when they first fell in love with them.  Many are being philosophical about it, appreciating the great effort Solveig and her husband made to create the kits even as they wish they had just one more in stash. And the English speakers are also appreciating the translations by Susanna Hansson.  Susanna will continue to teach her Bohus class, and well worth it, it is, for the history and inspiration and chance to see the Bohus Stickning originals in her collection.

Here is one of those originals, which I had the opportunity to photograph on a trip in 2013.


This is a design that was new to me - Cornflower.   Susanna had not just the sweater, but also a hat and scarf.  This design is in 100% wool, so the design stands out crisply.


And for something to really blow your mind - Bohus bits.  The original Bohus designer who shared them with Susanna just whacked pieces off for her.  THAT, my dear, is true friendship.


For those of you who would like to indulge in even more Bohus beauty, check out my Flickr set for lots more beauty shots and some pics of a modern reproduction of Red Edge (Susan Newhall’s work) laid next to the authentic garment, showing the amazing job by Solveig in dyeing the new yarns.  You’ll also find a Lemon and a Blue Light, plus shots of a special hat.

Yes, I did feel a bit faint playing with these beautiful originals.  And with the end of an era of Solveig’s dyeing, I feel a bit fainter.  Thank you, Solveig, for the wonderful pleasure of working with these wonderful garments.  I am so glad I am several kits ahead in my stash and have many hours of Bohus knitting in front of me.



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 -   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!