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

Archive for the ‘UFOs’


Massive…

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.

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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,

Ellen

Buffalo cowls, won’t you come out tonight?

Dear Jan,

I crack myself up.  I have named the most recent new project in my list “A cowl for George Bailey“, because it is a “buffalo” cowl.  Say it fast and with a gutteral “c” and perhaps you will chuckle a bit.  Kind of seasonal, eh?

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Oh, why buffalo?  It isn’t, actually.  It’s bison, the bison 2-ply I spun last winter.  Every since the spinning it had been telling me it wanted to  become Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Pretty Thing, and now I am granting that wish.

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The long and heavy snowstorm of Sunday has made for some good knitting time and I am 70% of the way through the knitting, partly because it is so enjoyable.  This yarn is wonderful fun to knit - it feels like petting a well-muscled but very soft and fuzzy cat.  Weird description, yet that is what pops in my head every time I pick it up - there is a substance and suppleness to the yarn covered up by a lovely halo of soft.

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Like a fluffy cat, no?

(I’m not sure I have complete buy-in on this.)

Love,

Ellen

Knit together…

Dear Jan,

You and I have gotten so much out of our knitting and blogging together.  We’ve raised each other’s bars on knitting quality, we’ve connected with each other and with so many other knitters and spinners both virtually and in person, and we’ve been privileged to name many of these connections as dear friends.  Anyone reading this blog gets this - how a shared passion knits friends together in so many ways.

Of course, you don’t need to share knitting to connect deeply with someone.  It is a pleasure, though, when someone special in your life recognizes what knitting can mean, and then connects to you through it.  Below is a photo* of a very special gift I recently received from my very dear friend, Jeanne.  This Barbara Lavallee print, Knit Three Together, captures the joy in our relationship and something of each of us - Jeanne, the Native Alaskan and me, the Knitter.  We’ve worked together and we’ve sorted out our share of life’s knots over a glass of wine,  and we have laughed, and yes, cried some, together, too.  When I think that she saw this and thought of me, well, that just sinks right into my core, you know?

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I kind of wish I had a couple of knitting buddies with me these days to help me push through some of my current projects.  Someone to unwind the yarn might just help me get the shawl I’m test knitting for Erica done.  The rows are now about 550 stitches long.  When we finish, the rows will be over 650 stitches long.  It helps that the fabric is gorgeous - Juniper Moon merino:silk blend in a subtle variegation of woodsy colors.

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Progress on the shawl has meant no progress on the sweater for your retirement ceremony.  It is quite possible I’ll be wearing a new shawl instead. Still, the gauge is so much bigger, I am still caught up in Knitter’s Hope, also known as Knitter’s Delusion, that I might get it done in time.  I’d show a photo but it hasn’t changed by a single stitch since the last one.

I hope you are knitting together a lovely weekend.  Ours is rainy, but that is just that much more time for getting that shawl off the needles.

Love,

Ellen

*I added blurring and text over the photo - the actual print is crisp and gorgeous.  Do go to the link provided and ooh and ahh over the many other lovely paintings she has done.

After this weekend, everything is in sheepshape order here…

Dear Jan,

last-viewed-events-28a.pngAs you are well aware, this last weekend was Shepherd’s Harvest, the biggest fiber festival in the Twin Cities area.  Four barns plus some freestanding tents of vendors, sheep, alpacas, goats and bunnies, classes and fleece sales all combine to make one of my favorite events.

I took 3 great classes.  The first, taught by Dee Heinrich of Peeper Hollow Farm, was on sheep color genetics.  Awesome, awesome, awesome.  Looking at the photos of lambs and figuring out their possible genetics was like sudoku on hooves.

The second was a photography class with Gale Zucker.  Yes, this is the second class I’ve taken with Gale, but now that I’ve been applying some of her wisdom I was ready to absorb a bit more.  Like how changing the exposure setting on your camera can make a big difference in picture quality in general, and how lowering it as much as a full f-stop can allow you to actually capture black yarn in particular.  The picture below shows the results of decreasing the exposure setting (with no other editing of the photo after it is downloaded).

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My last class was taught by Carol Wagner of Hidden Valley Farm & Woolen Mill.  We played with fiber blending, color blending, and color layering.  A total blast, and I’m afraid it may have pushed me toward doing some dyeing.

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It definitely pushed me toward buying one of her Coopworth fleeces.  The fiber we worked with in class was so lofty and lustrous.  I also bought a pound of raw Rambouillet just to compare that fine stuff to the stronger Coopworth.  A Rambouillet lock  is on the left below, the Coopworth to the right.

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In between coming and going to the festival, I did get a little knitting done.  I’ve gotten a start on another test knit - this one for Erica.  Her spiral shawl is a great travel project, at least at this size, as the pattern is simple increases in a stockinette ground.

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And I haven’t forgotten the big event of the summer.  I’ve gotten a start on my sweater to wear to your retirement.  The pattern, Paulina by Julie Weisenberger, is much lovelier than this bit of sleeve suggests.

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All in all, I’m ending the weekend smiling.

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Love,

Ellen

Whew! I Need a Breather!

Dear Ellen,

So many good things and so much great fun in the last few weeks.  I’ve hit the point where all I want is a weekend without any plans.  I guess that will come one day — and then I’ll miss all the activity.

dsc04231.JPGIt was so wonderful to have you, Wilson and Karen join us at the engagement party.  Allen was very grateful too.  He and Libby are so happy together.  Planning for the fall wedding will start soon.

img_5895.JPGWork had piled up in my absence, so the return to DC wasn’t fun.  Dale took off for the farm Friday afternoon and I followed on the train later that night.  Jim and Chris joined us at the farm for Friday night and Saturday morning — it was so good to see them.  We enjoyed some wine Friday night and lunch at the Central Market on Saturday.  After they left we did shopping and I rather collapsed in front of the TV.  I did get a few things done here on Sunday — some rose pruning and garden clean up, food prep for the coming week and some knitting.  I also refilled the bird feeders much to the appreciation of this little guy.

dsc04392.JPGManly progresses — sleeves are now joined to the body and I’m working on the yoke.

dsc04391.JPGAnd I had finished Pipeliner’s Journey earlier in the week and got it blocked out today.  I’m pleased with both.

That’s it for now…I’m so behind in so much I just can’t take more time!

Love, Jan

Lamb Season

Dear Ellen,

dsc04195.JPGOh, I so wish I had photos to share of the little lambies at one of the farms near us.  We went out hiking today on a converted railway — good hike and lots of lovely scenery, but we knew we had only covered about a tenth of the trail.  We went driving to see where the other trail heads were and in the process passed a farm with so much cute sproinginess going on one could hardly stand it.  I had hope to take a picture or two on our way back, but evidently food is in the barn and our return trip was around feeding time.

dsc04189.JPGWhile walking around our own property, I found that nature is doing a bit of her own plying.  It’s a bit unfortunate though — these aggressive vines are killing a lot of the trees.  We go through the woods severing them from their root stock and freeing the trees from being strangled.  It is pretty impressive as an example of large gauge 2-ply though!

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img_5866.JPGThis week’s star avian visitor was a yellow-shafted northern flicker, who graced us with his presence as an exception to policy as this variety of woodpecker rarely goes to feeders.  He couldn’t resist the suet.

dsc04196.JPGdsc04197.JPGAnd I’ve been knitting away on Pipeliner’s Journey and Ann’s Big Heart.  On the former I am not getting the length I expected — no wonder, my garter stitch is evidently much tighter than gauge…and who checks gauge for shawls??  Oh well, easy to add some rows to make sure it’s long enough.  If it looks like I’ll run out of yarn, I’ll just order more.  If the dye lots don’t match, I’ll just use the new yarn for the border only. I finished the knitting and blocking of the latter.  Very pretty lace pattern and the shawl is easy to wear.  I’m debating doing a simple i-cord edging on the two fronts and around the collar.  I think that would finish it off nicely.  Then, despite the fact that it lies so easily around the neck, I’d add a large hook and eye closure.  If Ann wears this in a hospital bed, I think having it fastened would be convenient.

The three day weekend was gone in a flash.  At least I only have three work days this week — I’ll be picking Allen up at the airport on Friday and it’s the engagement party on Saturday!  Looking forward to seeing you then!

Love, Jan

6 More Weeks

Dear Ellen,

dsc04167.JPGI guess being put on notice that it was expected to hang around for 6 more weeks made winter finally get serious about showing up here.  It’s very cold for this part of the state (this part of the year), but fortunately I have hand knits to keep me warm on my walks.

february.JPGAnd our birds are happy to have lots of bird seed and suet.

dsc04182.JPGdsc04175.JPGI finished up some pleasing 3-ply 70% BFL and 30% Tussah Silk yesterday.  By this morning it was dry from its bath to set the twist and I skeined it up.  I’m rather pleased with it.  It has a little bit of a halo, but not much.  The silk makes it feel very, very…well, silky.  And the colors are wonderful.  The colorway was called Redwood Forest and you can see it.  It spun very nicely.  If you see any Frabjous Fibers around, you might want to grab it.

dsc04166.JPGIn other spinning news, I scored a collection of ounce to ounce and a half samples  of 24 different sheep breeds.  I’m going to try to do 2 a month for the next few months.  Once I retire I can do more.  Fun!

dsc04171.JPGI’m making headway on the shawl for my friend Ann.  I did find an error in the pattern, but I worked it out pretty directly.  The start of the shawls from Alison’s book is new for me.  I rather like it for this kind of circular shawl.  I think Ann will like it too.

dsc04170.JPGI also cast on for my Pipeliner’s Journey as part of the KAL over on The Knitting Pipeline.  I am LOVING this Quince and Co. yarn!

Short, but sweet this week.

Love, Jan

Downy or Hairy?

Dear Ellen,

img_5819.JPGDo you like your peckers downy or hairy?  Sorry, upon reading my opening line, I realize it sounds way to much like the language of our spam commenters, but to be clear, I am talking about woodpeckers.  I believe this lovely bird is a hairy one.  The two are remarkably similar with differences only in their beaks and outer tail feathers as far as I can tell.  If those are black bars/spots on her outer tail feathers (yes, I can tell she’s a female — no red patch on the back of the head), then I’m wrong, she’s a downy.  But I would expect to see the black spots a bit better and her beak is far more chisel-like than I saw on the pictures of the downy.  Tough call.  I’ll let you know after I post this over in the “Knitting Pipeline” group on Ravelry.  Paula’s an expert.

dsc04161.JPGI’ve made good progress on Manly.  I have almost reached the “joining of sleeves” point in the body entirely with the first skein of Eco+ — was very pleased to see how far it went.  I started the next skein, but realizing I’d need sleeves to join soon, decided to work on those before I continued on the body.  I’ve got one ready to go and am about a third of the way up the second.  I’d be there in no time if I hadn’t picked up two new projects that I need to crack out quickly.

dsc04160.JPGThe first of these is a helmet liner using that fabu pattern, Gusseted Helmet Liner from TwinSet Designs.  I’m sure your familiar with it.  (By the way, when I created my project on Ravelry for this, I became your 200th project.  Do I get a prize?  Oh wait, I already got one — that lovely Columbia roving and fun, fun gifts from China.  I am particularly partial to the finger flashlight.  Thanks!) I’m making this for a buddy who deploys in a few weeks. I found out he still only has the government issue crappy acrylic helmet liner and asked him if he’d like a good one. He was thrilled when I said I’d make him one.  I’m making great progress, but am not thrilled with the stretchiness of my cast on — believe I will finish the helmet liner and then try to pick up stitches near the cast on, pick the cast on out and then bind off using Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Cast Off.  Also, instead of doing a provisional cast on for the resumption of knitting in the round after the neckstand, I used two circs as the base and did a figure eight cast on to yield two lines of live stitches — one line oriented up and the other down. It worked great. When I go back to do the ribbing around the face opening I’ll simply pick up the stitches on the sides of the neck stand and be in business.

dsc04163.JPGThe next one will be a shawl for my friend Ann.  You may recall that I designed Ann’s Cap for her when she first came down with ovarian cancer.  She’s been in remission for a few years now, but her last scan showed that it’s back.  Surgery is Monday.  I’d like to be able to bring this shawl to her sometime week after next.   The pattern, from Wrapped in Comfort is perfect — named Bigfoot, I’m naming this project Ann’s Big Heart.  Her feet aren’t that big, but boy her heart is!  (I have been meaning to knit from Alison’s book for a while, but was not able to lay my hands on it.  It showed up a few weeks ago when I unpacked the last boxes from the move.) I’m doing it in Socrates — a yarn that has a very warm, very soft feel to it.

dsc04162.JPGFinally, I decided to join in on a KAL on the Knitting Pipeline boards.  Quince and Company picked up a pattern that Paula designed and it is lovely, called Piper’s Journey (click through to see a preview on their site).  I’m not a Piper, but I’ve so enjoyed her podcast and being a member of the Ravelry group, so I couldn’t say no.  Mine’s called Pipeliner’s Journey.  It will, however, have to wait till I finish the other priority projects.  As it’s not yet available (it should go on sale within the week), I may finish them up just in time.  I’m making mine in Quince and Company Chickadee in the glacier colorway.

Spinning continues too…am through the 4 oz. braid of silk and merino and I have a question.  What do you do when you can’t find the end of your single?  Mine somehow disappeared after it broke during the spinning process and now I fear surgery will be the only way to recover it.  As I’d like to ply next weekend, your advice will be valued!

Love, Jan

 

January Means Sweater Knitting

Dear Ellen,

dsc04150.JPGI’m surely having fun with my spinning wheel.  I’ve now got two lovely skeins of my own handspun worsted weight corriedale.  (I need to double check the WPIs, that’s an eyeball estimate.)  They are both from fiber from Desigknit — such gorgeous hews I loved watching the fiber turn into singles and then into the 3-ply yarn.   I’ve got ideas for them — I’m thinking a brioche stitch hat, maybe something like Nancy Marchant’s Delft’s Blauw.  It’s pretty sweet and I own the book — Knitting Brioche.  And I’m hoping I’ll have enough left for some simple mitts.  We’ll see.  In any case it will have to wait.  I have THREE sweaters on the needles right now.  Yep, three.

dsc04139.JPGThe first is the Ori-Mommy sweater that I’m co-knitting with Marie.  My part is now up to 57.5 inches long…about 14.5 inches to go.  She was making good progress on hers too, so we should have a sweater in the not terribly distant future.  Believe it or not, but I have really enjoyed working on this.  It’s basically K1P1 ribbing all the way.  Maybe I like it because I can drink and knit without worrying about forgetting the pattern.  Maybe it is the zen quality of the rhythm of switching back and forth between knits and pearls which I do find quite soothing.

dsc04141.JPGThe second one is called Manly.  I’m very pleased to be working on this one.  You see I have been eager to knit for Dale for sometime and he finally wants a sweater.  He did say he hoped it would be  a manly one though. So here we go — bulky wool in an almost olive drab…almost. It is really lovely with bronze and gold fibers that give it a nice heathery look. Brownstone is the perfect pattern, but I’ll be making it longer and adding some short rows in the back of the body to make sure it doesn’t creep up in back. He just hates that.

dsc04143.JPGFinally, I’ve been eager to do some selfish knitting and this sweater I’m calling Fooling Around is the ticket.  It’s knit in Zealana Kauri Fingering, oh so soft with 60% New Zealand Merino, 30% possum and  10% silk.  The swatch bloomed beautifully and I know this will be very lightweight, but very snug at the same time.  The pattern is Pam Power’s Devonshire and has a beautiful lace inset in the back and along the edgest. I am so loving this knit and I never thought I’d want to knit a sweater in such a fine weight yarn.  Perhaps this will warm me up to try to start my Bohus.  Don’t hold your breath though — that sweater may have to marinate in stash for a while longer.

dsc04131.JPGI’ve got some other fibery ideas for the coming year.  Remember that fungus?  It’s now drying on top of Allen’s Mini.  Sometime this spring I’m going to give a shot at using it as a dye base to see if I can’t get some oyster mushroom yarn out of it.  More to come on that one!

dsc04151.JPGTo wrap up last year I knit this little guy to guard my computer.  The kit to make him was in my holiday loot from Dale…my own knitted ninja.  Haiii-YA!!!

january.jpgAnd finally, a quick report on 55 in 52.  I’m now down to 47 in 48.  I believe I can credit the fact that I’m preparing healthy options on the weekends so they’re ready to scarf down when I come home from work exhausted.  Yummy!

Hope your 2012 is going well!  Love, Jan

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