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Archive for the ‘Teaching’


Knitting Newbie!

Dear Ellen,

dsc03133.JPGdsc03135.JPGI had to take a quick moment to show off one of our community’s newest knitter…our niece Jessie!  She spent some time with us last month and she has embraced our craft with gusto.  I’m very proud of her, she is doing GREAT!  And she mastered the long-tail cast on with just one sitting.  Watch for great things from her!  I hope we’ll have her back on the farm soon.  The doggies do too.

Love, Jan

Teachers’ pets…

Jan, we can’t take long on this post - I still have to finish my swatches for tomorrow’s classes!

Well, Ellen, if you had done your homework earlier, you wouldn’t be in this fix.  Mine are already done.

Yeah, and mom always loved you best, too.  (Tough love!)  But that’s ok, after the fun today I can get over that.

17.jpgIt was a lot of fun today.  Sorry I missed the first half of Lucy Neatby’s Short Row Wizardry class. (Thanks, Delta.  What do you mean you had to go hunt for a replacement tire???!)  At least I caught the exciting ending.  I no longer look at short rows as basic pains in the *ss.  They really have utility and the Japanese method is slick!

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24.jpg34.jpg43.jpgI really like the Modified Conventional bind off she taught.  Knit one, slide the stitch back onto the left hand needle, and without removing the right tip, slip it into the next stitch just like normal.  Then knit them both right off the needle!  So quick, so smooth.

53.jpgThat it keeps the bind-off loose was an added bonus, as was meeting Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen over at StevenBe’s.  

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72.jpg62.jpg82.jpgIndeed.  But the real fun was Cookie A, such a delightful sense of humor.  And what a great collection of socks! (Steven right in the middle!)  I appreciated how willing she was to just chat with everyone in the class.  And I feel more confident about designing my own cables and stitch patterns after her class.

Me too.

18.jpgAnd - don’t forget the handsome men wearing knitwear. Stephen West - predicted to be the next Jared Flood on the right, Tim - Junior Fiber Executive on the left.  We’re all wearing Stephen’s designs.)  Bonus!  Disclaimer: Neither as handsome or wonderful to me as W, but W doesn’t design as much knitwear, truth be told.

Hey -  What about Jessie?  She was so busy running around the shop making everyone happy today that we didn’t catch a photo of her.  We’ll amend that tomorrow.

Speaking of which, I still have to go get my swatches done.

Did I mention that I have mine finished?

On the Road Again

Dear Ellen,

This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 3:30 AM so as to make it to Reagan International in time for a series of flights that would take me to Monterey, CA.  I’m speaking in one of the classes at the Navy Postgraduate School Information Professional Center of Excellence in the morning and then heading to San Diego.  Tuesday morning I speak at a Joint Tactical Radio System S&T conference and then get on the red eye to head back to DC, arriving at 8:30 AM Wednesday and then hustling into the Pentagon in time to give a briefing on future netcentric investment strategies at 10:00 PM.

dscn2530.JPGAll this and what I’d really like to do is get home and finish my little mitered bag.  I enrolled in Annie Modesitt’s on line course and it’s quite fun!  When I should have been packing, I was mitering.  I didn’t have enough time to spare to finish it, but I did get a good bit of progress on my class bag.  As I was rushing, it’s a bit wonky, but I’m putting a lot of faith into the felting of it to erase my sins.  I didn’t bring it with me — too many balls of yarn and a desire to finish the samples and pattern for the Hugs and Kisses socks.  I think I may be able to have both complete by the end of the trip.  Then I can finish off that little bag! (Then I’ll probably do it again, with more precision and in other colors!)

Love, Jan

Before and after…

Hi, Jan,

11.jpgMy little pussywillow continues to give me before and after (blooming, in this case) fun, but I’ve been making some of  my own this weekend.

21.jpg31.jpgI soaked up some Vaquero beans to provide easy eating all week.  These are gorgeous beans - so black where they are black that they shine blue if you move your eyes a bit while looking at them.  They look like little Holsteins for the vaquero to herd.  After soaking, a few Guernseys sneak in.  (Maybe they knew the photos would be going on a knitting blog and tried to blend in by being ganseys…)  ( BTW Rancho Gordo provides my bean fix - economical luxury for a foodie.  I recommend them highly.)

41.jpg61.jpgIn more before and after action, I cut the steeks on the front and neck of Norwegian hugs.  While not as transformative as blocking lace, opening up a neck like this does make an interesting bag-like object suddenly look like a sweater.

51.jpg Here is a closeup top-down view of the steeks before cutting.  You can see the front of the neck, which is deeper and requires a longer steek, to the far side.  The back of the neck, with less shaping and a shallower neckline, requires just a few rows of steek, but even that pulls everything into an odd shape.

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7.jpg8.jpgI sew a narrow and short zigzag stitch (I think it allows flex, especially if I cut the steek before I block) one stitch away from the cutting line.  Here I’m cutting the front of the sweater.

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9.jpgThe result is so satisfying, it is worth the slight unease that hearing shears go through your knitting brings. Note that I haven’t cut the sleeve steeks yet.  I’ll do that after I block everything so I can get the armhole depth just right by measuring against the actual depth of my sleeves.  I hope to finish knitting those tonight - just a couple inches more to go.

Now I need to go and shop the Super Bowl sale at Coldwater Collaborative.  I wonder how the before and after of my stash will compare, heh!

Love,

Ellen

The Gift of Knitting

Dear Ellen,

radm-dussault.jpgI had to share this photo of one of my friends…and students!  I taught her to knit a few years ago and she has progressed to “obsession” stage.  Dale ran into her at the commissary yesterday and she proudly modeled some of her recent work.  It makes me smile to see that smile on her face!  Her husband may not have been so pleased with the chance meeting as she started comparing notes with Dale regarding the various knitter’s tools and gadgets that I own versus her own collection.  Would you be surprised to know that I have many things that she has yet to acquire?  I was actually impressed with Dale’s level of awareness in things knitterly.  That made me smile too!

Love, Jan

Picot peek.

Dear Jan,

Startitis of the variant Bohus - it is an illness to which I have no immunity.  Egged on by the other Bohus Babes (maybe there are Bohus Boys, too, I hope?), I have joined a Bohus hat KAL.  I’m using up some bits and pieces of yarn I earned when I knit a hair clip for Susanna’s classes. It isn’t enough variety of colors to accurately follow the Blue Shimmer pattern in its entirety,  so I’m calling my design Blue Shimmerish.  I’m winging the hat and started out with a picot edge.  Questions from other participants in the KAL prompt me to post a bit of a tutorial on the technique here.

1.jpgThe beginning of a nice picot hem is a provisional cast on of your choice.  I use something like a Turkish cast on with a smooth cotton yarn in the place of the second needle.  I then knit about an inch in stockinette, followed by one row of *k2tog yo* repeated for the entire round.  Knit the same number of rows as you knit prior to the *k2tog yo* round and you are ready to join the hem together. Here you see my provisional cast on at top, from the right side.

2.jpg3.jpgUsing a fine circular needle, remove the waste yarn from the cast on and pick up the live stitches. Fold the piece together and hold the two left hand needles next to each other, prepared to knit with the outside of your hat facing you.

4.jpgKnit through both the first stitch on the top needle and the first stitch on the back.  Check that you are orienting the back stitches properly (in case you picked them up without worrying about which way they were placed on the needle).

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5.jpgKnit along in this manner, knitting a stitch off each needle with each stitch.  Oh - it should be simple to match them up as you should have stopped your knitting at the start of a round, but do check that your columns of stitches line up front and back so you don’t end up with a skewed hem.

6.jpgWhen you finish the round, you have a lovely hemmed edge and are ready to move on to the body of the hat.

Edited later to add: if you really want to be sure it doesn’t flip up, knit one extra row on the front side of the hem.  Don’t ask me how I know.

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7.jpgIn Bohus, that means time for some addictive colorwork.  Here is both right and wrong side of my hat thus far.  The color isn’t as bright and pretty as it truly is because I stayed up way too late knitting.  It really is a sickness.  Be careful, it could be catching!

Love,

Ellen

Final Days in Norfolk

Dear Ellen,

Now starts a series of posts to catch you up on our comings and goings. Of course, you know we’re already in Colorado Springs (the Springs, or COS for short), but as we haven’t talked and I’ve been pathetic about posting, you don’t have any of the fun details of how we got here.

After we finished packing out our household goods, John and BetsyJohn and Betsy K. were our very gracious host and hostess for our last week in Norfolk. I can’t believe I didn’t get pictures of our dogs together (they have a cute little shelty), but at least I got some shots of the human folks. We really enjoyed staying with them and doing stuff like going to the Greek Fest, just hanging out and relaxing. Dale and BetsyJan and JohnI did have to work, but I didn’t have to worry about preparing for the pack out since it was already done. And it’s one of the more stressful aspects of a move for me. bruttis-brunch-w-koivisto-and-nelson.JPGWe made it a point to get together with Kathy and Jim N. at our favorite brunch spot (Brutti’s on Court Street in Portsmouth!) — so nice to have such great friends.

I also intrigued Betsy with knitting to the point where she decided knitting-supplies.JPGfocused-knitter.JPGfirst-project.JPGshe wanted to give it a shot. (She had been thinking about it for a while.)  We went to Ewe Knit Kits and Yarn and picked out some great Merino Otto in the shadow colorway and after I made her practice on some cheap acrylic economical basic yarn, we got her started on her first project. It’s a sock-and-a-half.JPGribbed scarf…I either blogged about this before or am experiencing deja vu. (As disoriented as I’ve been lately, I wouldn’t be surprised!) I think she’s doing quite well…a real natural knitter — and look at that concentration!  I’m hoping for an update soon. I finished Mark G’s sock and a half, but didn’t get it mailed before we left. (Okay, so I haven’t gotten around to mailing it yet!)

crowded-but-comfy.JPGWe had a wonderful time with good friends and hated to say goodbye, but the time did come and we got on the road. It was something of a tight squeeze, what with two large humans, a goodly quantity of luggage and our two furry friends. They were great travelers and didn’t complain once about the cramped quarters. I think they knew they were on the way to see their boy down at the Navy Supply School in Athens, Georgia.

Tomorrow…Allen graduates from Supply School…and what you see on the way to COS.

Love, Jan