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

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!

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!

Episode 32 — A Living Doll

In which for some unknown reason we sound muffled. (I did have a stuffy nose and sinuses, but Ellen was healthy so that’s not the reason and I processed the file in the same manner, so that’s not the reason.  Urgh! Sometimes this podcasting stuff is hard!  Well, you can still understand us, so you’re getting it as it is.)  And in which we discuss the cold (maybe that’s it, we were wrapped in scarves and mufflers?), haunted barns (maybe a ghost is choking us?), idea weekends with ideas that Ellen can’t share or she’d have to kill us (maybe she was smothering us with pillows?, but why would she smother herself?), a trip to DC with a stop at a new to me yarn shop (maybe I’m buried in yarn and fiber?), spinning and handling alpaca at the PA Farm Show (maybe an alpaca is sitting on us?), grilled cheese and tomato soup (maybe our mouths are full?), and Susan B. Anderson’s new e-book, “Mary, Millie and Morgan” (that’s it, those dolls are so cute you want to gobble them up…our mouths ARE full!).

We love the comments we get from listeners, especially the ones that make us laugh, like Alison’s on the last episode.  You can find more of her pun-ishing humor at SpinDyeKnit.

And you can find the Mary Lou Egan patterns that Ellen’s been enjoying tech editing on Ravelry - Miss Gulch is a textured cowl and Swales Hat is a textured hat.  Both are quick and fun knits!

Jan found plenty to do at the PA Farm Show, and then she found more fun at Black Sheep Yarns in Cockeysville, MD.  Check that website out - gorgeous shop!
Despite challenges with the on-line registration (the tubes of the innernets seemed to have been plugged up, probably with felted fiber from someone who didn’t wash their Felfs in a pillow case), Ellen did get signed up for the Designing Tesselations class by Franklin Habit at Yarnover which will be on April 26 at Hopkins High School, just a few miles west of downtown Minneapolis.  That same weekend, she plans to take part in FiberFest at Steven Be’s.  She’ll be lucky if she doesn’t get clogged up with fiber! (She hopes if she is, some of it will be the luscious mink yarn from Grinning Gargoyle.) And she’s hoping Jennie the Potter will be there, too. And Wendy J Johnson of Saga Hill Designs with all her fibers and dyes - and her new book, Yarn Works.  Yes, Ellen is glad she only has one class so she will have lots of time to browse the marketplace.

It’s not like either twin needs more yarn.  Though they have been knitting up some stash - Ellen has been continuing progress on her Forever in the Forest stole out of Misti Alpaca lace weight and based on the Forest Path Stole by Faina M. Letoutchaia.  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.  And, for variety, Ellen has been designing a pair of socks out of ModeKnit Yarns ModeSock.

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.  More Felfs are on the way, too!

We encourage you to take inspiration from the 2014 Intentions thread on our Ravelry group - you listeners are writing some really good stuff!
The new e-book from Susan B. Anderson is good stuff, too.  Check out “Mary, Millie and Morgan” - you won’t be able to resist dreaming about who you’d knit up as a doll.
Jan is still dreaming about spinning up Briar Rose - or at least, her lovely fleece.  (She is an alpaca friend of Jan’s.)  Ellen is dreaming of spinning up some Briar Rose, too - she has several bumps of BFL dyed by Chris at Briar Rose Fibers that should hit the wheel one of these days!

That’s it for now - enjoy the show!

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!