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Archive for the ‘Charity’


Knitted Creations

Dear Ellen,

foggy-coast1.JPGWhile Marie and Heidi were here, Marie’s interest in knitting seemed to pick up again.  We made a trip to the Lancaster Yarn Shop and picked up the yarn to knit the Origami Pullover.  This was prompted by our friend Heidi’s willingness to let us all try on her Origami — doesn’t it look great on Marie?  Reminds me of Audrey Hepburn in a funny way.  That’s 68 inches of K1P1 ribbing in the main body piece — slog knitting at it’s best.  The fact that this piece is just two rectangles cleverly pieced together made Marie feel very confident about her ability to make it. She was less confident in how quickly she could make it.  I agreed that if she knit the smaller of the two rectangles (about 1/3 of the knitting), that I would knit the large one.  We picked out some lovely 100% alpaca in a charcoal gray, a color she can wear at work and we cast on that night.  Progress is being made….I’ll keep you posted.

creation-shawl-1.jpgA far faster knit is this little fluffy shawl.  I made it from the limited time Rowan Creation yarn.  It took about an hour to knit up and will be a nice little donation scarf for our workplace charity silent auction.  It’s fun to wear too!

dsc03997-1.JPGI finished one other item — the Rocky Coast Cardigan that I’m calling Foggy Coast.  It’s going to take a long time to dry — that wool really soaked up the water.  It christened my studio sink and blocking area.  I look forward to many more knits making their way through that sink and onto that table.

Well, I’m going to run…I’ve got some ribbing to knit!

Love, Jan

Farewell Summer!

Dear Ellen,

dsc03367.JPGToday started cool enough to wear a sweater for most of the morning, but by about 11:00 AM, I had to change to a T-shirt.  It wants to be fall, but it just isn’t quite there.  We are seeing lots of pumpkins and the corn is drying out in the fields, so I know it will be here for real soon.  Allen and Libby arrived on Saturday so he could drop off his car for storage and say his goodbyes before he executes his new orders to Bahrain.  He’ll be gone for five or six months at least before coming back for some leave.  dsc03370.JPGWe had the best time with them, Libby is very low maintenance so it is a real pleasure to have them here.  We dropped them off at the Lancaster Amtrak station this morning — only 25 minutes from here and on the Keystone line to New York City.  We’re looking at running into New York to visit the girls one weekend too.  It’s day-trip doable.  You should tell Jenny!

dsc03390.JPGdsc03388.JPGI finished some stuff for Warm Hats, Warm Hearts — the third of the trio of maroon hats in graduated sizes and a few baby knits.  I’m settling in on a pattern for easy worsted weight baby dsc03385.JPGbooties that are toe up and feature a few innovations in the toe and heel to make them faster knits.  I can knock out a pair in less than 2 hours.  Add a cap in 2 hours and you’ve got a nice gift for a longer evenings worth of work.  Preemie sizes would be even faster.

dsc03383.JPGI also got moving on Vanessa’s Royal wedding couple and queen (and corgie).  I’ve gotten through about half of the bride’s body and have totally reworked the pattern to the point where I really could call it my own.  The orginal is knit in flat pieces all of which have to be seamed and sewn together.  I don’t mind seaming, but at this scale it would cause a ridiculous amount of bulk!  I adapted to knit in the round up each leg, attach them together with additional stitches in the crotch and some shaping in the body to give a little tush and a waist.  We’ll see what I do with the torso — I won’t get too risque!

dsc03380.JPGI finished these Spring Lace socks last week, but I haven’t found my sock blockers yet.  I figured I’d at least provide you with a peak at them.  The feet should  block out longer than they appear here.  These feel great on.  They’re the ones I cast on out of the Sweet Georgia yarn while we were at Sock Summit.  I’ll put up another picture once they’re blocked.

dsc03391.JPGdsc03397.JPGdsc03393.JPGThe dogs and I did some galivanting about the property.  Found some pretty butterflies and admired the sky through the corn stalks.  The dogs agree with me — coming here is like going on vacation.  I know we’ll love it when every day is vacation!dsc03411.JPGdsc03408.JPG

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Love, Jan

Labor Day on the Farm

Dear Ellen,

dsc03336.JPGDale and I extended our Labor Day weekend by adding on 2 days of leave.  It was absolutely wonderful!  I made some good progress in a lot of areas…our pantry is much more settled, our library can be used and I am able to find some things in my office/studio.  I also got a few hats knit for Warm Hats, Warm Hearts and have one more planned for the drive back to Virginia.

dsc03347.JPGdsc03352.JPGI cast on with my handspun for my Virtual Loungewear, the Saroyan shawlette which we have declared to be our group’s cellblock uniform. The fabric is lovely and light.  I dropped down to a size 5 needle from the size 10 recommended in the pattern because the yarn is really a laceweight.  dsc03353.JPGI was going to try several needle sizes to see what I liked, but I started with the 5s and loved the result.  The gauge is tight enough to make the fabric appear opaque, but it’s open enough to make for a very light, but warm fabric.  Because the gauge is, of course, more dense than that of the original I added several increase repeats before starting on the straight section in order to make it wide enough.  I’m shooting for about 12 inches wide so it can be a combo-scarf-shawlette.  It’s definite potato chip knitting — I want to see what’s going to happen with the next swath of color!

dsc03340.JPGdsc03339.JPGI’ve got my eye on some more spinning too.  These gorgeous spindles arrived in the mail yesterday and they are calling to me like crazy.  The fact that they came with some lovely samples of fiber doesn’t hurt.  Oh, and I found a great little shop up in Lancaster called Labadie Looms.  They’ve got handspun yarn, a good deal of locally sourced roving and a bunch of spinning wheels.  dsc03341.JPGThe lovely owner shared with us that she was a 9th generation handspinner, handweaver and knitter and that the shop has been in existence in some form since 1863.  I bought this 1/4 pound of coopworth from her. I had never heard of it before.  Have you spun with it yet?  She says it’s one of the breeds that was favored by the Pennsylvania Germans who populated this area.

dsc03345.JPGdsc03344.JPGdsc03346.JPGWhen we left Labadie’s we brought home some cute little sisters to stay with us for a while.  Aren’t they adorable?  They were made by a local 15 year old.  I love how authentic she was with her color choices and design of their headwear.  I know I could make similar ones myself, but the fact that their purchase would be encouraging a young woman in her craft made it impossible to say, “no.”  The yarn is handspun as well, but I didn’t think to ask if she did the handspinning as well as the knitting.

dsc03319.JPGdsc03323.JPGLabor Day on the farm is really pretty much like any other day.  There’s no such thing as a day off, but the work we’re doing here is so much more enjoyable.  Dale was having a great dsc03328.JPGdsc03330.JPGtime making mulch out of limbs felled during Hurricane Irene.  This is a tiny pile so far, but it turned into a much larger one and was the third one of the day.  For some reason I kept thinking of Frances dsc03326.JPGdsc03332.JPGMcDormand.  I did some work in the flower garden…Ruby kept an eye on me.  The roses are still bearing well and we’re getting some beautiful berries on many of our plants now.

dsc03317.JPGIt did rain for much of the weekend and the week so far.  Luckily the house is secure and snug and dry as a bone.  It does make me want to snooze though…or just sit and watch the rain chain.  I hate to think about tomorrow — it will be back to the grind.  But at least it’s only a 2 day work week!

Love, Jan

Warm Heads, Warm Hearts

Dear Jan,

I know you were as astonished and concerned as I when post-hurricane reports started coming in from friends in Vermont and upstate New York.  Hearing personal accounts of how entire villages were isolated by bridges washing out, rivers running through ground floor apartments, and waves lapping at front porches made the impact very real. I doubled my usual Red Cross donation, but now we have a chance to make our impact very real, too.

India has close family who were hit.  In addition to providing a new home for one family member, she is starting a new knitting effort to provide  tangible evidence of our concern and warmth for the winter that is coming very soon to many people who just lost their lifetime collection of gloves and hats.  Details at the bottom of the post for those who would like to join in.

21.jpgI’m sending along a baby sweater that I just finished up last night (EZ’s February Baby Sweater, Berroco Lullaby on size 7 needles), and I believe I’ll be casting on a hat tonight.

11.jpgI’ll do some spinning first.  After all of those rare breeds in natural colors, I was aching for color.  While I have some of Erica’s subtle rovings in my stash, I needed more of a lightning bolt after months of brown and grey, so Abstract Fibers merino/silk in colorway Shady Glade it is.  Put some electric green next to some cobalt blue and my heart is happy.

And when I cast on that hat, it will be warm.

Love,

Ellen

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 WARM HATS, WARM HEARTS

Seeking donations of handknits for Vermont and New York flood survivors.

What’s needed:

Hats * Scarves * Mittens/gloves * Sweaters * Socks * Blankets * Baby items * Knitted toys

Please included a note stating the size of the garment if appropriate, the fiber content, and washing instructions. Please use machine washable materials whenever possible but especially for baby and children’s items. Washing instructions are particularly important if you use yarn that requires hand washing or dry cleaning.

Feel free to include any personal notes for the eventual recipient.

Please send your handknit donations to:

Warm Hats, Warm Hearts
c/o India Tresselt
251 Huntley Road
Westford, VT 05494

There is no deadline for donations, but I hope to have some to distribute with the onset of cold weather, beginning in mid September. If I receive more items than are need for flood relief, I will donate the rest to other appropriate charitable organizations in Vermont and New York. If you have any other questions, please email me at warmhearts2@gmail.com

Thank you!

WARM HATS, WARM HEARTS

On August 28, Hurricane Irene visited Vermont. Although my town was spared the worst, many towns throughout the state suffered devastating flooding. My husband’s brother, sister, and mother narrowly escaped the rising waters of the Mad River, which inundated their home and their village, soaking everything in its path, taking out roads and bridges, and leaving behind inches of muck and piles of debris.
My family was lucky. Many of their things, including their clothing, are salvageable. But many others are not so fortunate. Though it is still quite warm here, we all know that soon the weather will turn much colder, and people will reach for that favorite sweater or scarf, only to remember that it’s gone.

I’m collecting donations of handknit hats, scarves, mittens, sweaters, socks, blankets, baby items, and knitted toys, items for anyone from babies through adults, to distribute to flood survivors in Vermont and upstate New York. If you would like to ply your needles for people in need, please contact me, India Tresselt, at warmhearts2@gmail.com. Thank you!

I’d Spring Back if I Had Any Snap Left in My Elastic

Dear Ellen,

dsc02440.JPGdsc02446.JPGdsc02424.JPGI can’t believe that spring is here.  I know you can’t either.  Of course, the fact that you still have massive piles of snow probably affects your view of things, but down here we have robins, daffodils and lots of mud.  The tree buds are swelling and some of the cherry trees are actually blooming.  The think I hate about spring being here is the loss of an hour this weekend.  I was tired enough without trying to manage the day without that hour.  And I had to drag myself out of bed before I was ready in hopes of going to be on EST vice DST.  If I don’t 4:45 AM will feel like 3:45 AM House tomorrow and that would not be a good way to start the work week.

dsc02425.JPGI’m pleased to report that we will now be able to tell the direction of the wind at Fair Winds.  Our weathervane went on the turret this week.  Only problem is you have to subtract about 65 degrees or so from the heading as they failed to correctly align the directionals.  Oh well!  This one is easily fixed…and can actually be used as a learning point for when our inlaid wood medallion goes into our floor — something that cannot be easily fixed!  With this error, I think dsc02429.JPGdsc02436.JPGdsc02428.JPGthey’ll be extra careful to have the compass out when they put the medallion in!  We now also have interior trim through much of the house and garage doors…it all adds to a more complete looking house.  I am so eager to see it when the rest of the window trim goes on and the landscaping gets started!

dsc02450.JPGdsc02451.JPGdsc02452.JPGI have finished a bit on knitting this week…not really that much volume, but hats do go quickly.  Yes, I’m working on another hat for Warm Hats Not Hot Heads, but the ones I finished this week were for an charity effort for Haiti where it is surprisingly cold at night.  These three will head off to join others to make the journey to help those still trying to recover form the earthquake last year…makes my concern for those in New Zealand and Japan even more acute when I realize how far from recovery Haiti still is.  I’ll be watching for an opportunity to help the kiwis and Japanese too.

dsc02448.JPGThe more complex project I’ve been working on is my Primula Shawl.  (Sorry, still no project page…in fact, I’m about 10 project pages behind at this point!)  I’ve added some extra rows of patterning to the project to use up the yarn and I’m pretty darned pleased with it for a first complex shawlette pattern.  I do have some real tweaking to do.  I want the ends to wrap more to the front like a faroese shawl, so just a bit of adjustment.  I love the color — the color for ovarian cancer awareness.  You may remember that Ann’s Hat was designed and knit for a friend with ovarian cancer.  (That pattern is up to 54 projects and is in 67 queues!)  This shawl is for her as she continues the fight.  All that’s left is the bind off and blocking.

dsc02454.JPGHere’s a picture of the Blue Spiral Cowl that I knit from stash yarn using the pattern Spiraluscious.  Glad I had listened to The Knit Wits podcast where Princess Carin the Knit had problems with that one extra stitch.  I have to admit that if I hadn’t been watching for the problem spot, I probably would have done the same thing.  The way the pattern is written, it’s easy to misinterpret it so that you think you are to increase a stitch each time you do row 16.  Reading it very deliberately you realize you are only supposed to do that the LAST TIME you knit row 16.  Technically, it’s written correctly, but I do think it warrants a bit more clarity for those of us who have exhausted a few too many brain cells.

dsc02449.JPGI still think of my cabled socks and the Sweater from Down Under as WIPs, but they are rapidly heading towards UFO status if I don’t get back to them soon.  I have the sweater ready to join me downstairs so I can match cabling down the sleeves while I work on them.  The socks come and go to PA with us in their nice little project bag.  At least they know I’m thinking of them.

51btz-3nbll_sl500_aa300_.jpgI want to close with a book review.  When I saw a dog that looked so much like Ruby on the cover, I couldn’t resist buying a copy of  Knit Your Own Dog:  Easy to Follow Patterns for 25 Pedigree Pooches by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne.  It is such a great little book!  I want to start taking pictures of all the dogs I know so I can recreate them in yarn.  The book doesn’t walk you through the process of “matching” your actual dog’s coloration to their patterns, but really, it’s just a matter of modifying the color patterns, the actual body patterns don’t have to change.  The author’s have their own knitwear business in London and they export completed garments as well as writing some great patterns.  They have two earlier books centered on pet accessories.  These gals obviously both love their pets and they know them very, very well.  I love that the patterns are extremely realistic and as the authors point out, the patterns include “details specific to each breed.”  They look to be clearly written, achievable for an intermediate knitter (there is fair isle, intarsia and shaping at a very fine gauge) who also knows how to manipulate fabric with a sewing needle.  I love them!  There are patterns for terriers, working dogs, sporting dogs, hounds and non-sporting.  I can’t decide which is my favorite, but I’m partial to the terriers of course,  and the corgi and the westie crack me up.  I’m dying to cast on — but it will require some planning as I’ll need to break my yarn diet to do it.  (Though there is that clause about buying yarn for gift knitting!)  The introduction ends with the encouragement to “Stitch your bitch.”  When I first skimmed it, I thought it said, “Stitch, you bitch.”  And I wondered, how did they know?

Love, Jan

Getting the Most from a Surplus

Dear Ellen,

dsc02358.JPGOne thing the Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads campaign has done for me is to allow me to make a pretty good dent in my yarn surplus.  As any economist will tell you, that is important to help stave off recessionary factors.  As I will tell you, it’s important to allow me to head off to Sock Summit this summer with plenty of room in my stash for additional purchases.  All eight of my hats came out of stash.  I’m pretty pleased with that.  And I’m pleased with my latest two contributions.  dsc02355.JPGdsc02351.JPGI cast on the first one Saturday morning while up in Pennsylvania.  It’s out of Classic Elite Moss and was a very fast knit.  I bound off while watching Despicable Me with Dale that evening.  I cast on the last one Sunday morning and finished it tonight.  It’s Classic Elite Kumara in a pretty aquamarine.  I made up the lace pattern as I went.  It would’ve been a faster knit, but some of that lace was trial and error.  I’ll put all eight hats in the mail the very first thing in the morning.

dsc02348.JPGdsc02340.JPGOur trip to PA included, of course, a stop at the building site.  It may not seem to have changed much to the casual observer, but check out that soffit, those corbels, the window trim!  dsc02341.JPGdsc02338.JPGAnd inside the mud-work has transformed raw dry-wall into beautifully shaped arches and corners to define our living spaces.  (AND a laundry chute!!)  dsc02345.JPGdsc02337.JPGWe had hoped to see copper roofing on the porch, but the machine to install it didn’t get delivered.  It is now scheduled for this Wednesday.  Our wells are held up too.  The drill truck was having trouble moving around and bracing itself in the slippery red clay mud.  Ironic that too much water is preventing us from finding water.

dsc02359.JPGEnroute to PA I worked on finishing my Spiraluscious.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t successful thanks to a shortfall of about 10 yards of yarn.  I should have been a bit more circumspect in needle selection.  The pattern calls for size 3s, but I chose to go with 4s as my yarn choice was a bit bulkier than the fingering weight called for.  (Okay, a lot bulkier — I’d call it a light worsted.)  I also should have taken the pattern at its word regards yardage.  My choice had 3 yards shy of the yardage called for.  (Okay, so one shouldn’t convince oneself that they always add a buffer to yarn requirements.)  I ran out of yarn 3 edge repeats from the end of the project.  I thought about ripping back and eliminating some of the last repeat of the body pattern, but instead got on Ravelry and went looking for people with the same yarn in their stash.  Hurrah for Ravelry!  I found someone with a remnant left over from a project they had knit and PM’d her.  She said she would be more than happy to send her remaining 21 yards in my direction.  Knitters are wonderful!  Of course, with the success of the WHNHH campaign, you already knew that!

Love, Jan

When you least expect it…

Dear Jan,

19.jpgI got quite the delightful surprise earlier this week, which is what led to me getting to knit for a few minutes with Kathryn and has led to so many kind words from friends and colleagues.  First, the great news that a local TV station wanted to do a story on Warm Hats Not Hot Heads, our knitters’ campaign to encourage civility in public discourse.  Then, in walks the interviewer with this crazy big check - they were giving me an award for this effort!  Then - it kept getting better - up walks Kathryn, who had nominated me for the award!!

A work colleague saw the award bit as it first aired and she forwarded the link to many of my colleagues and then they posted it on the corporate home page, and boy, did my inbox fill up fast.  So many nice notes of congratulations and also of thanks - and to every  person out there who has knit a hat or passed along the word about the project, you deserve those thanks, too.

In other unexpected but delightful news this week, when one of the knitters asked about why not try to cover the Senate first, it prodded me to review the tracker.  I discovered that with a few more folks jumping in, it was feasible to do this.  And now we have!  We have committed hats to be sent to 100% of the Senate!

63.jpgMotivated by all the support, I somehow ended the week with two more hats off my needles.  The blue is Hurricane by Andrea Goutier;  I am calling it Political Fan(atic) for the Fanatic brand of yarn I used.  The second is an improvised one I am calling Three Hour Skull Cap.  It is knit from White Buffalo unspun wool, very chunky, and really does take just 3 hours if you don’t frog twice to correct the fit.

23.jpgA last bit of unexpected pleasure late yesterday  afternoon, this male cardinal like a jewel against the greys and greens of maple branches and spruce needles.  He is part of a mated pair who have just started showing up at the feeders together.  There sure is a lot of unexpected good around me these days.

I hope your weekend is unexpectedly good, too.

Three More Warm Hats

Dear Ellen,

I will have a few more posts this weekend, but wanted to update you on my WHNHH efforts…3 more complete to bring me to 6.   All three are original, created as I went, patterns.

dsc02320.JPGdsc02323.JPGdsc02321.JPGI’m loving the undulation of this cabled hat.  Recognize the yarn?  It’s the leftover from TGIF (BTW, I finally found buttons I think will truly work…will try to sew those on this weekend!)  I made up the pattern which is basically staggered rows of a 2-1-2 cable.  Note the Channel Island Cast On — I’m trying to use it a lot to memorize it.  When it’s on the head you can see the “1″ which is a purl stitch.  When it’s not it looks like a standard C2F.  The staggering resulted in a nice lapping wave effect.  I may have to do it again in sea greens and blues.

dsc02318.JPGdsc02317.JPGThis poppy red one is basically a scant inch of twisted stitch  ribbing followed by the eye of partridge stitch pattern until the decreases…pattern stitch maintained during the 6 paired sets of decreases.  Dale really loves this one…the simplicity and the fact that all that slipping creates a thicker fabric.  He wants me to make another for him before next winter.  Or sooner if it gets really cold again.   The yarn is soft, soft, soft!  It’s Classic Elite Kumara — 85% extra fine merino and 15% baby camel.  I got it on sale for about $4 a ball.

dsc02324.JPGdsc02326.JPGThe grey one was a SUPER fast knit.  I was getting brain dead and just wanted to do something really mindless.  The staggered ribbing and the variation in K3P3 to K1P1 happened organically.  I think the result is very satisfying.   Knitpicks Andean Silk at $4.49 a ball for a great blend of merino, alpaca and silk and a delight to knit.

Keep up the extraordinary work with the campaign.  I will be ready to mail mine out at the end of the month.

Love, Jan

Go Red for Women

barb-parry-and-friends.jpgDear Ellen,

I love reading Sheep Gal’s blog…except when it went quiet for a while and her readership discovered it was because she had suffered a heart attack.  Well, she’s back on her feet again and working towards a full recovery.  In the process she has decided to raise money to fight heart disease and make women aware of their risks.  Her blog post from a few days ago tells a bit more of her story and has a link to the American Heart Association page where people can donate to the cause.

Love, Jan

Guess Who Will Soon Have Handspun?

Dear Ellen,

my-prize-handspun.jpgPsych!  Yes, I’ll soon have some handspun, in fact, this handspun, but the only thing I had to do with its creation was entering a raffle for the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.  So much awesomeness…and that’s not all.  The prize also includes 2 skeins of Brooks Farm Four Play, a skein of STR Lightweight and a baby blanket kit from Morehouse Farms.  SWEET!  And since I just signed on to Cold Sheep till Sock Summit 2011, I can’t buy yarn for a while (except for gift projects which will be started immediately) so that makes this score even more fun!  (I do have a lingering bid on an e-Bay auction…if I win that, it’s also exempted because it was initiated before the commitment.  Anyway, just wanted to share my glee!

Love, Jan