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

Archive for March, 2013

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Dear Jan,


I’m not sure if this is a house finch or a purple finch.? We usually get house finches, but that bill looks pretty conical and the coloring went all the way down the bird’s back.


I am sure this is Rambioullet fiber, dyed by the expert hand of Erica at DesigKnits.? A different color combination than you might expect for this time of year, but it is tickling my fancy.


Our Ostara eggs didn’t need dye this year.? They are a different color right from the get-go.

Whatever color your springtime celebration comes in, I hope it is joyous.



Finch Me…I must be dreaming.

Dear Jan,

I’m not sure if I’m dreaming or if I’m having a nightmare.? This morning the thermometer read 9 degrees.? Those are Farenheit degrees, just to be clear.? Wind chill tonight is predicted to be double digits below zero.


And yet this little guy insists that spring is virtually here, proclaiming he is too sexy for his winter feathers, and it is time to show off his bright yellow dating wardrobe.

I am not too sexy for my new cowl, Massive, pattern for which is Decibella by Gale Zucker and yarn for which is by Classic Elite and me (Waterlily, cable plyed 4 strands of this Aran weight yarn into one super-bulky yarn).? In this weather, it is good to look hot warm.


Someone else may feel sexy in another recent FO, Impossible Dreams.? Stats: pattern – Seedling Dreams by Amy Beth Mays, yarns are Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted (gray, 100% wool) and Frog Tree Merino Melange (pink, 100% merino wool).? I knit the medium, and while it fits, it just barely does.? I don’t do much pink, either, so I’m thinking this is likely to be a charity hat.


And I have yet one more FO to share.? This is my Fiber Fusion class project, knit out of various handspun yarns and one skein of fat and funky art yarn. Mostly knit on size 13’s, but I accidentally picked up an 11 and did most of one sleeve so I just repeated that on the other.? The yarns include my handspun Nora (a TargheeX sheep whose fleece I bought at the 2011 Shepherd’s Harvest), samples of handspun Shetland, Black Welsh Mountain and Wensleydale, and a Steven Be Exclusive Handspun, created by Ruby Slippers Studio out of wool, alpaca, fabric, metallic thread, polyester, acrylic, nylon, sequins, mohair, silver, glitz, angeline, and rubber butterflies.? Because glitz AND sequins weren’t quite enough.


The process was and the result is exhilarating.? I explained the process in a prior blog post.? The result is going to be in a showing of Steven’s work at Third Place Gallery in Minneapolis which opens this weekend.? (Yes, I do work well to a deadline.)

I could use the sweater at home to wrap up in and keep warm this weekend – we won’t see anything like real spring temperatures for quite sometime.

I won’t be the only one happy for their arrival.




Episode 13 — How Now Giant Cow?

In which we squee over Dr. Gemma’s review, welcome baby Matilda, and chat about Shirley Paden’s Design-A-Long, clever cats, alpaca roundups, giant cows, top shelf vodka, knitting satisfaction, lots of knitting on and off the needles, lots of knitting nibbles too, bulging bobbins and that’s not everything, but it is about the grist, err, um, gist of it.

1-imag0202.jpg Our mud sale quilt score!

1-imag0351.jpg The stitch swatch for the gradient shawl/scarf.? I think I’ll name the patten “Swagger” because the ribbed border looks something like swags and I’ll surely swagger when I wear it!


More thanks!? To new and returning listeners, for kind iTunes reviews, to stashmuffin aka Laura Rickets for making Jan feel better with the gift of her cowl pattern, sha-ZAM! and to Jennie the Potter for donating a beautiful button to the winner of the Madrona meet new friends contest.? And special thanks to Dr. Gemma of the Cogknitive Podcast for the very kind (and thrilling to us) words.

Ellen continues reminiscing about Madrona, in particular about a new friend, designer Mari Tabita.? Check out her lovely designs.? Mari introduced her to the Shirley Paden Design Along 3, which you can follow in the We Love Shirley Paden? Ravelry group.

Jan gave her alpacas the full health and beauty treatment with the help of family and friends, and retrieved the alpaca when a gate was left open, also with the help of family and friends.

In the What Would Susan Ask design element, we discussed how knitting makes us feel.? Thanks again to Susan Dolph of the Knitajourney Podcast for letting us use her interview questions in our podcast.

In On the Runway, Ellen is juggling projects – her Great Dayne top-down raglan from her class at Madrona;? Umeshu, her version of Melanie Gibbons’ Hanami Stole;? socks in the Monkey pattern which she is calling Saki and she has started swatching for the Shirley Paden DAL3 as well as gotten a start on her re-knit of the Master Knitter Level II wrister.? As she recorded, she worked on Rimfrost, aka Many Moments of Grace.

Jan is making a second version of her cape design, this one is named Beta.? She continues on her Death Spiral shawl (design by Erica Gunn).? In the design phase, Jan is planning a new shawl to use up every yard of the yarn she spun from her Fiber Optic gradient roving and has swatched for it.

In Bitten by Your Knittin’, Ellen reported that you need to follow the pattern if you expect it to turn out the way it is in the picture.? She learned this while knitting Seedling Dreams, an Amy Beth Mays hat.? She also struggled a bit with her version of Gale Zucker’s Decibella, which she is calling Massive.? Gauge and a lack of the right knitting needles held her up initially, but things turned out great in the end. Jan struggled with her new cape prototype until she started listening to what it wanted to be.

No Finely or Finally Finished Items for Jan, but Ellen did finish both Massive and her version of Seedling Dreams, The Impossible Dream.

In Design Principles, Ellen discussed starting a design with a stitch pattern as the inspiration.

In 360 degrees, Jan reported on the continuing production of singles from her Finn roving.? After Ellen described using 4 strands of commercial yarn plyed together to make yarn for her Massive cowl, Jan thinks she’ll do some cable plying of the Finn singles to make another big yarn.

In Fiber Jargon we discuss grist and how to measure it – one way being the McMorran Balance.

While there will be plenty of fun in April, the big events for Jan and Ellen both are Yarnover (April 27), and Steven Berg’s Fiber Fest April 25-29.? Let us know on the Ravelry group if you’d like to meet up!

Enjoy the episode!

Imagine a moth…

Did you know that the last stage in an insects life is the imago, plural imagines?? While I wish I had imagined this, unfortunately I didn’t. ? A moth flew out of my closet a couple of days ago.

Though said insect is now smashed to smothereens, I am sure it was Tineola bisselliella, the dreaded clothes moth.? Powdery, silvery green wings, erratic flight, yup, sure is the fiber artist’s nemesis.


As many of my sweaters were due for a wash, I went ahead and used my soaking and spinning machine* to work my way through all of my wool sweaters over the course of a few days. I thoroughly vacuumed the drawers in which I keep them and the closet itself.

The shawls gave me pause. All of that blocking to be redone was more than I could face. So I baked them.

Recalling that at work (where we handle tons of grains and flours) we occasionally heat the whole building up to quell meal moth infestation, I wondered if something like this would work for wool moths. After some research in agricultural texts and on-line information**, I concluded that if I got my knits over 140F for several minutes (or 160 F for less than a minute), I should be able to knock out any and all forms of moth – egg, larva, or adult.? Combine this info with my favorite feature of my kitchen range, the warming drawer, and you’ve got a straightforward method for disinfesting delicates of these pests.

I set the warming drawer on High, wrapped the shawls in a light cotton towel, stuck a meat thermometer into the middle to make sure I get them up to 140F, and baked my shawls free of any insidious infestation.



Bonus – thanks to this unasked for prompt, I have gotten my annual sweater wash done earlier than ever before.

Imagine that.




Note – do not do this with garments that you aren’t sure are clean. Heating causes all sorts of great chemical reactions between sugars and proteins (like the ones in that egg salad that dripped on your sweater the other day, or the sweat that has been accumulating on the edge of that cowl) and these reactions create delicious flavors and very brown stains. This is what is happening, by the way, when stains slowly appear on old clothing – the heat just speeds all that up.


*A.K.A. washing machine – great for soaking multiple sweaters at once and spinning the water out – just don’t ever let it agitate them!

** Tang, Juming; Mitcham, Elizabeth; Wang, Shaojin; Lurie, Susan. 2007. Heat Treatments for Postharvet Pest Control: Theory and Practice. CAB International, Oxon, UK.

**Cranshaw, W. 2003. Fact Sheet No. 5598, Indian Meal Moth. Colorado State University.

Image of clothes moth from Wikimedia Commons.

Big yarn…

Dear Jan,

Many people hold two strands or even three together to emulate a heavier weight yarn.? How about 4 plyed together?


The green isn’t really that yellow, but my iPhone did a fine job of capturing the twist, I mean the gist of this yarn.

It wasn’t until I started this 4-strand cable that I realized that the Waterlily I’m using is itself a 4-strand cabled yarn.? Each strand is a two ply, so this yarn has a total of 32 plies.

For each skein, I used 4 balls of Waterlily.? I added extra twist to each skein on my wheel, filling all four of my bobbins.? The bobbins aren’t big enough to ply this much yarn onto them anyway, so it didn’t matter that I used them all up.? To ply them together, I pulled out one of those big bottom whorl spindles you gave me a number of years ago.? It took a bit of time, but it did the trick.

I’ll cast on tomorrow.? After the 8 inches of snow that we shoveled today, it is apparent a big cowl could still find some use here.



Episode 12 — Gauging Where You’re At

?In which we hear many, many highlights from Madrona, consider the image of alpaca at the feeding trough, ponder whether the fact that we are knitters has caused us to make decisions differently,were thankful for finding knitting that once was lost, are illuminated by the wisdom that can come from a single gauge swatch (especially one that is garment sized), take a spin with Finn, consider what to do when massively bulky yarn is not really so bulky after all, and enjoy hearing from the greatest Dayne of all.

1-imag0200.jpg Dale’s Hat

1-dsc06452.JPG First Prototype of the Entrelac Capelet

1-dsc06460.JPGSeeded Pretzel Gauntlets

1-marie-knits.jpgMarie knits!!

1-dsc06462.JPGPreemie Hat complete with obscured cables.


















Five for Dinner


More thanks!? To new and returning listeners, for kind iTunes reviews, and to stashmuffin aka Laura Rickets for the gift of her great design, Wavy Gravy.

Ellen waxed poetic about her Madrona experience.? She highlighted Susan Newhall and her Blended Intarsia designs, such as Verdant and Vitreous.?? It is worth a look at Susan’s reproduction Bohus project, Dean, which she worked as a dress.? She ordered extra yarn from Solveig Gustafson, proprietress of SolSilke, who feeds the Bohus addiction of so many of us.

Ellen also talked about classes with Brenda Dayne of Cast-On podcast fame (Top Down Raglan Design) and Catherine Lowe (The Wow! Factor).?? She spun possum fiber with Judith MacKenzie.? For info on how the brushtail possum is causing environmental and economic havoc in New Zealand, look here.

From winter in Tacoma, Ellen headed to the sunny south, enjoying the wildlife of Sanibel Island, Florida.? Jan stayed home on the farm and shoveled poop.

In the What Would Susan Ask design element, we discussed how knitting has affected our decisions.? Thanks again to Susan Dolph of the Knitajourney Podcast for letting us use her interview questions in our podcast.

In On the Runway, Ellen is juggling projects – her Great Dayne top-down raglan from her class at Madrona, her long languishing Umeshu, a version of Melanie Gibbons’ Hanami Stole (Jan finished her Sea Glass version of the same pattern years ago, though both twins started at roughly the same time), a new pair of socks in the Monkey pattern which she is calling Saki, and of course, she’s done a bit of work on her Blue Moons Cardigan and as she recorded, she worked on Rimfrost, aka Many Moments of Grace.

Jan described designing a hat for Dale out of the unusually constructed SMC Select Tweed Deluxe.? She also made gauntlets for Marie out of an SMC yarn, project entry on Ravelry coming soon, I’m sure.? She finished her design prototype, Stained Glass Cape.? She continues on her Death Spiral shawl (design by Erica Gunn).? In the design phase, Jan is planning a new shawl to use up every yard of the yarn she spun from her Fiber Optic gradient roving.

In Bitten by Your Knittin’, Ellen reported the savage bite of leaving Umeshu on an airplane, but the delight she had in Sun Country Airline’s lost and found service when they recovered it for her.

Most of Jan’s Finely or Finally Knit items were discussed in On the Runway, but Ellen got to report that Sockesan! socks are done and she is very happy with the results. Her verdict on Noro Kureyon Sock – thumbs up!

In Design Principles, Ellen discusses the many lessons in gauge she learned in Catherine Lowe’s class, and Jan discusses how gauge also applies to scale of the garment – a finer gauge allows for finer detail for a given size of project.

Ellen challenged Jan to design a bulky yarn for a Decibella cowl, Gale Zucker’s recent design.

Jan shared a recent favorite Embellishment – Mason (or Ball) jars.? She uses them for all sorts of fun purposes.

In 360 degrees, Ellen reports that she loves the yarn she spun for a Decibella cowl, but it didn’t turn out bulky enough.? Her current plan is to take some commercial worsted weight yarn and ply triples of it on itself to get the weight she needs for a massive cowl.? She loves the other yarn enough that she may still knit a lighter weight version of the cowl in it, too.?? Jan is spinning fiber from the Finn bread of sheep as she is considering choosing this breed for their farm.

Brenda Dayne is the featured 5 Minute Interview.

The twins fashion forecast looks forward to spring – the Bart County Mud Sale March 2 and March 16 for Jan and on into April (spring comes later to in Minnesota) for Ellen with a 16 store shop hop,? Yarnover (April 27), and Steven Berg’s Fiber Fest April 25-29.

Enjoy the episode!


Dear Jan,

I want a massive cowl. To get this I need a massive yarn. But I don’t want to spend a massive amount of money, which limits me to working from stash.

I tried to spin a super bulky and failed (though I got a gorgeous yarn which will definitely go to another wonderful project), so now I’m going to try to ply a super bulky.


Four strands of Classic Elite Yarns Waterlily plyed together – if that doesn’t give me the massive impact I want, I don’t know what will. But it does eat heavily into my beloved Water Lily stash, Water Lily that is now discontinued. (I remind myself that Water Lily wasn’t made to be hidden in my closet, it was made to be used…)

This will be my Iknitarod project – I will start spinning in just 17 minutes when the mushers take off from the ceremonial start out of Anchorage.? The real start is tomorrow at Willow checkpoint, but I’d better not wait until then or I may not finish before the Red Lantern gets to Nome.

With massive affection,