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

Archive for the ‘Work in Progress’


Don’t Fence Me In

Dear Ellen,

I surely have felt fenced in of late.  The post-surgical complications (nothing too serious, dear readers) have been a figurative and literal pain in the……okay, okay, I won’t go there.  I was going a bit stir crazy, but I’m very happy to report that in just the last few days I have seen a dramatic increase in my ability to sit upright without doing additional damage or suffering some very discrete yet powerful pain.  This translates directly into my being able to do things with my hands like knitting, doing needlepoint, needlefelting, etc.  One is far less likely to go insane more able to entertain oneself when not limited to lying about on one’s stomach.  This has yielded a number of completed projects on which I’ll focus most of the rest of this blog post (assuming anyone who reads this blog  also listens to the podcast so I don’t need to tell them about Thanksgiving or the chickens).

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I will comment on one other item though — Dale, with some help from Allen, Heidi, one of our teenaged neighbors and me (on the very last short board so I could say I helped) has completed putting up the posts and rails for our first paddock.  Isn’t it fabulous?  (Okay, it’s a crappy picture from Dale’s very old phone, but at least you get the idea.) We (and by we, I mean Dale) still have to put in the gates and trim the posts to height, but the hardest work is finished.  I’m now working on the shopping list for halters, water troughs, hay racks and medical supplies.  I can’t wait to see alpaca inside that fence.

1-dsc06234.JPGNow to those finished projects.  I’m really pleased with my Spring Grove Tocque and Mitts.  They’re knit from yarn produced by Spring Grove Alpaca Ranch — our intended source for our first alpaca.  (But you can only see the tocque here, and not yet blocked at that — imagine very similar mitts till I post a picture some day.)  Carl, the owner was so generous with his time and alpaca for the wedding that I wanted to knit him something to repay him.  I think he will appreciate it doubly since they’re made from his yarn — a lovely sport weight in natural fawn and tan colors provided kindly by the alpacas Prediction and Ellamy.  I do so love knitting with alpaca yarn — kitten belly soft (TM).

1-dsc06189.JPGI also created a little menagerie of fiber friends to keep me company in my confinement.  They are all needlefelted, most have a partial or complete pipecleaner armature.  Each one only took a few hours to complete — pretty quick and I think they turned out really cute.  Each is the representation of a well loved pet.  Can you pick out Max and Ruby?  These guys are destined to find themselves under a Christmas tree (or in a stocking).  I’ll miss them, but by then I should be able to be out and about and talking to humans.  (No, I haven’t been talking to these guys….much.)

6-dsc06206.JPG I also knocked out a handful of felted ornaments — 2 sheep, a snowman and a whoopie pie.  I gave the little Wensleydale to my friend Jeri who raises them.  The little snowman went to our knit group ornament exchange.  Dale will get the whoopie pie and I get the little white and black sheep (perhaps a Suffolk?) is for me.  I think I need to add a ribbon to the whoopie pie to make sure Dale doesn’t think he can eat it.

1-show-me-your-larch-pack.jpgAnd Show Me Your Larch Pack is finished!!  Off the needles, pieced and photographed…though not blocked yet.  I do think you can see it’s fantastic potential in these photos — just imagine what it will look like after a good wet blocking.  I am so looking forward to wearing it.

I haven’t cast on Pretty Thing yet, but I hope to before the weekend is over.  I’ve got some other things to get done, so I’d better get to it if I’m going to get this posted and pick out yarn!

Love, Jan

Knitting and Spinning Catch Up

Dear Ellen,

My needles have been a clickin’ and my spindle and wheel have been a spinnin’ — one reason my blog posts had fallen behind.  Here’s a quick run down of the fiber activities from the summer.

1-4-star-scarf.jpgI knit a scarf that I called my Four Star Scarf as an appreciation gift for Chief of Naval Operations Greenert’s willingness to preside and speak at my retirement.  Navy blue and gold, of course.

1-fooling-around1.jpgFooling Around is almost complete.  You can see some of my mattress stitching mastery in this collage.  The sweater is fully pieced now, but I need to attach the hook and eye closure and get some modeled shots.  Soon.

1-dsc05665.JPGHiya, Brooke! is named for a grad school classmate of mine.   It’s the Hyla Brook shawl pattern by Paula Emons-Fuessle, Prairiepiper of the Knitting Pipeline podcast.  A very relaxing and enjoyable pattern that turns out a most wearable shawlette.  I really like Paula’s patterns, having also knitted Piper’s Journey and admitting I just bought her newest pattern, Ellison Bay.  One thing I love is the background she gives about her inspiration for each.  Hyla Brook is inspired by the hyla, the European tree frog, and a brook named for it’s population thereof.  The lace pattern is called hyla lace and you can just imagine the little peepers all in a row.  I modified mine slightly from Paula’s pattern so that the lace would be symmetrical mirror images from the spine. It’s not blocked yet in this pattern, but will be soon.  You can see an end waiting to be woven in…you wouldn’t have any experience in loose ends would you?  (Heh!)

3-hoof-jam.JPGHoof Jam is my own pattern made from the Alisha Goes Around Marmalade (of Ponies) fingering weight in the Landscape colorway that you gifted me at Christmas.  The pattern is toe up with ribbed horseshoe cables along the outside of the cuffs and eye of partridge heels.  (How could I not use horseshoe cables when knitting with Marmalade of Ponies???)  A sock pattern like this, that has a nice stretch of stockinette with only a short stretch of patterning each round is a nice balance between challenging and boring.  It’s very knittable during social settings and even with adult beverages!  After the wedding this will be one of the patterns that makes it up onto Ravelry for sale.

1-dsc05240.JPGLazy Sunrise, knit from Kauni Effektgarn is a cleverly assymetric shawl in the Lazy Katy pattern by Birgit Freyer that really shows this yarn off well.  It was a pretty darned fast knit too.  Either that or I just couldn’t put it down as watching the colorway work through it’s gradients was so much fun.

2-dsc05562.JPGI finished up a few mitts — the Mrs. Beeton mitts by Brenda Dayne.  (Mine are called Fancy Pants for my Wrists.)

3-dsc05567.JPGAnd I finished the my Beady Ayes mitts based on the Opposites Attract Heavily Beaded Cuff Pattern by Susanna Hansson that I started in the class we took from Susanna at Yarnover.  I couldn’t leave well enough alone and felt compelled to add a bit of ruffle and some eyelet edging to Susanna’s basic pattern.  I still have other mitts in the works — those Bohus mitts for which you gave me the yarn and pattern several years ago.

dsc04139.JPGOri-mommy has been in the works.  I’ve finished my piece — the large rectangle, and Marie is making good progress on her piece — the smaller rectangle.  She hopes to be done by the wedding so she can leave it with me for seaming together and blocking.

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1-dsc05647.JPGIteration number two of the Sunny Day at Sea Hat, Mittens and Stripey Neck Gaiter is complete.  A few more modifications and I’ll work on getting this set put together as a pattern.

1-twinboybunting.jpg Twin Boy Bunting was sent off to you for your use in completing your Twin Girl Bunting.  I’m so glad to hear from you that you finished yours (despite my efforts to sabotage my accidental mistake in not providing notes on the color chart) and that Julie loved them!

6-dsc05496.JPG  Summer Skies Tank was finished in time for autumn to kick in.  That’s okay as I need to lose a few more pounds before it would look great on me.  Right now it looks good, but great would be so much better!

1-file0_medium21.jpg Sitting and waiting for me to return to it is Death Spiral.  It will be some great travel knitting for post-wedding events.  Right now it needs to be patient while I finish up the wedding knitting!

1-dsc05792.JPGCountry Gentlewoman is done except for closures and sleeves.  Here it’s drying, having just soaked for about 15 minutes in, well, Soak, of course.  I wanted to wet block the body so I’d be extremely confident about closure placement and sleeve length.   I still have 12 days, so I feel like I’m in good shape.  It fits well, and looks great with the palazzo pants I’ll be wearing…no mother-of-the-groom dress for me!

1-file0_medium22.jpgAnd finally, the Valentine Ring Bearer’s Pillow still has half a backing and the side edging to complete.  I am going to have it done this week so Libby can help add the blue and gold ribbons (her colors) to make it more festive for the wedding.  Those will come right off after the big day and the pillow will be a nice addition to their bedroom decor.

1-dsc05492-001.JPGAs for spinning, my big summer achievement is 1900 yards of DK weight Wensleydale 2 ply.  I love, love, love it.  And have plans for it to become the Larch cardigan.  You’ll see it at Rhinebeck (in process!) for sure!  I also have a nice little yurt of natural colored finn on my lark spindle.  I’m going to chain ply it — hopefully about 100 yards worth for dyeing in my natural dyeing class at Rhinebeck.

That’s all I’m covering right now — believe it or not, there are a few other projects for which I have yet to create Ravelry pages.  At least this clears my backlog of posting, so now maybe I can keep up a bit better.  I’ll try!

Love, Jan

The power of the purl…

Dear Jan,

My Greek Swan, a Bohus reproduction of the Large Swan design, is coming along swimmingly, as befits a project inspired by waterfowl.

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Also fitting, given the sculptural beauty of a swan gliding across the water, is the way the many purl stitches in this design carve a 3-dimensional shape into the fabric.   Each feather motif pops forward because it is outlined by purl stitches.

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More purls surround the motifs that recall swan’s feet.  That the yarn used in the feet is  slightly heavier weight 100% wool yarn, rather than the angora/wool blend of the rest of the hat, further enhances the effect.

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My goal is to finish this up before the last swimming event is over, so I’ll sign off now and get on with it.  I hope you are making equally good progress on your Ravellenic projects!

Love,

Ellen

Knitting in the (Grand) Round…

Dear Jan,

The Grand Rounds are a system of parks, byways, and trails that circle the city of Minneapolis.  Tracing the Chain of Lakes, following Minnehaha Creek along the southern edge,  and wending its way through Theodore Wirth Park, complete with quaking bogs, you can spend a day in the heart of the city but never know it because you are surrounded by such natural beauty.  The Victory Memorial Parkway is another special part of the rounds – 3.8 miles of trees lining a broad boulevard, planted to honor those from Hennepin County  who served in World War I, and down the middle of which runs a stunning bike trail.

We rode it all today, and because we rode to it to start riding it, that meant over 47 miles of pedaling.  And we can still function!

We attribute this to our much improved trip management.  We started earlier than the last time we tried this (the time we gave up about 2/3 of the way through and cut off the north portion in interest of making it home), and we planned many rest and eating stops of much greater duration and much smarter food than the first time we did this (the time we did finish it but were so bonked about 3/4 of the way home we got home mostly by growling at each other).  I took advantage of a lingering lunch stop to get some knitting in.

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And Wilson had us stop at his chess club to look in on a tournament that was taking place.

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It was just what we needed, taking our minds off work pressures and spending about 7 hours just focused on each other, helping each other find the trail, reminding each other to drink and eat, and just yukking it up like kids.

I plan nothing more this evening than dinner and knitting, continuing on the sweater that made the trip with me, which is the Cocoknits pullover I hope to finish for your retirement ceremony this Thursday.

I may be deluding myself – when I got on my bike this morning, I was this far along with the sweater – the left sleeve and the very beginning of the front and back of the sideways knit garment.

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Luckily, the spiral shawl I just finished will go with the dress I plan to wear, too.  I don’t think that careful planning of resting and eating will really help me finish the remaining 3/4 of  this sweater.

I hope you are all finished up with work stuff other than handing in your keys.

Love,

Ellen

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

Dear Jan,

14.jpgWe had a pretty slow weekend around here, with gray skies and cool temperatures.  The kiddens spent most of it napping, Wilson spent most of it reading, and I spent most of it catching up on a backlog of work.

31.jpg23.jpgI did take frequent knitting and spinning breaks, as I’d hate to strain anything by thinking too hard.  I added to the slow but steady progress that my Rimfrost has seen in the last couple of weeks.  The sock I’m knitting from the handspun out of the batt you brought me from New Zealand has finally made it to the heel.  The pattern is Maeva, a free pattern on Knitty.

41.jpgAnd Rhythm ‘n’ Blues has sufficient length to protect my modesty.  If I weren’t on my fourth try at getting a border I like, it might actually be close to being finished.  The first border, applied I-cord, flipped up like nobody’s business.  When I threw in some decreases along the way, the flipping got tamed but so did the stretch, and I’m afraid my hips need the stretch.  I thought a reverse stockinette edge would both tame the flip and give stretch, but while the very edge went in the right direction, the bottom still wants to flip up.  I’m tearing it out one more time and will try a simple 1×1 rib for an inch or so.

52.jpgFinally, three more rare breed yarns have entered my collection – from left to right we have Jacob, Shetland, and Hog Island. I also washed fiber from 3 other breeds – Wensleydale, California Variegated Mutant, and Gulf Coast.  I’ll subject you to the details on that in another post.  For now, time to start easing back into the work week.

I hope I don’t strain anything.

Love,

Ellen

A Prize Winning Week

Dear Ellen,

dsc03046.JPGWell, the Parade of Homes is wrapping up today.  Over the course of the week we had about 4,500+ visitors come through our home.  Reports are that there were many nice comments and our builders are very happy with the number of leads that the Parade has generated.  We’re all a bit glad that it’s coming to a close.  The builders will get some of their lives back — and next weekend we’ll actually get possession of our home!

dsc03049.JPGI finished up my Global Connections socks.  I called these Global Connections because I knit them (mostly) on two 13 hour flights to and from the Middle East and the colorway is “Global”…perfect.  The original pattern inspiration is from the   Faceted Rib Socks in the Little Box of Socks by Charlene Schurch and beth Parrott.  I modified it to be knit toe up.  The stitch pattern yields a very cushy fabric, but it wants to be a tighter gauge than the stockinette of the sole.  Wet blocking resolved the difference, but in the future I think I’d knit the sole on a smaller needle.

dsc03051.JPGThese used my basic recipe for toe-up socks which normally involves a set of wrapped turns as part of the turning of the heel.  (K across to the turn point, Kfb, K1, w/t.)  I came up with an alternative with which I’m rather pleased.  Instead I knit right up to the turn point, make a lifted left leaning increase and then turn without wrapping.  I slip the first stitch (the lifted increase) and continue knitting to the next turn.  The effect is smooth uninterrupted stockinette stitch, accomplished without having to wrap or pick up wraps later.  Because the pivot point is that lifted increase stitch, which is not stitched on the return, it provides a nice smooth transition point.  And the stitch count is increased without the unsightly bump of a Kfb…a win on all counts!

dsc03052.JPGdsc03054.JPGdsc03053.JPG  I also got moving on a simple little scarf which is a minor variation on Anne Hanson of Knitspot’s Campanula Scarf, so I’m just calling it my Campanula Scarf Variation. The yarn is 90% Suri Alpaca and 10% Merino.  It feels incredibly luxurious as it slides through my fingers.  I’m enjoying the knitting a lot.  When I got tired of following the lace pattern I grabbed some leftover yarn from my Einstein bathrobe and cast on Another Purple Hat.  I’ll figure out who needs this Warm Hats Not Hot Heads project later.  I also wound the yarn for a project that I hope will be at the standard for submission to Knitty.  I plan on bringing swatches, design notes, pattern and product to Sock Summit for my class on “Making the Next Monkey.”  I expect to get started tonight!

I’ve got to run…we have a neighborhood pot luck dinner tonight, so I’ve got to get moving.  (Remember pot lucks?  They’re a lot like hot dish suppers in case you forgot!)

Love, Jan

Ending the Merry Month of May

Dear Ellen,

dsc02755.JPGdsc02740.JPGdsc02765.JPGI am relieved to be back in my home…it’s been a whirlwind wind up to this month as I’ve been traveling since we left for Cleveland and the wedding.  That was certainly a fun event with much merriment and romance in the air.   Although blurry, I thought this shot of Craig and Lauren really captured it.  And I did enjoy the reception with my brothers and sisters.  Beth did a great job on the seating chart.  And Patty did a great job tracking our pork and beef orders.  dsc02781.JPGdscf1380.JPGdsc02786.JPGI’m quite sure that you, Patty and I were the hit of the evening entertainment-wise.  We may have pounded a little too hard based on the way Wilson and Patty were holding their heads the next morning.  I wonder if Ken and Kristen will be next?

dsc02838.JPGdsc02832.JPGdsc02833.JPGI left the wedding and headed out to the west coast where I met up with good friends from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom for the Combined Communications Electronics Board.  We did much dsc02857.JPGdsc02855.JPGofficial work and also spent a day and a half out on an aircraft carrier.  MUCH fun and good work done as well.  I was glad to have a chance to be underway — and very pleased to know Allen was underway on PROVIDENCE at the same time…likely the only time that will happen in our careers.  As always, our city at sea had lots going on.  Flight operations, combat direction center, radio shack, the bakery, Yoplait!!  What’s not to like?

Check out some flight ops — Here’s a launch and here’s a trap.

dsc02922.JPGOn return I got a few scant hours of sleep and then Dale and I and the doggies headed to Fair Winds for a one night camp out in the shadow of the new house.  Dale did lots of property grooming and I knit the second of my First Flame Socks.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find the original dpns on which I dsc02956.JPGdsc02980.JPGdsc02981.JPGknit the first…found another set the same size, but then, not really.   The second sock is slightly smaller.  As the needles were different materials (carbon fiber vs. metal) they knit at a slightly different gauge.  The socks blocked out to the same size, but I know one will feel looser.  I’ll be sure the recipient knows to wear the smaller one on her smaller foot.

dsc02951.JPGdsc02950.JPGRuby and Max worked very hard too — lots of sniffing and running about and trying to catch squirrels.  They had to get a lot of extra rest to regain their energy.

dsc02945.JPGdsc02939.JPGdscf1426.JPGThe house is all but finished.  It is without doubt the most beautiful house I’ve ever seen.  The interior decorator working the show had most of the furniture in place for the Parade along with many small touches…he said more dscf1419.JPGdscf1430.JPGdscf1418.JPGwere to come before the event. dscf1416.JPGdscf1432.JPGThere is no doubt that his furniture is nicer than ours…but we should have 30-40 years to work on upgrading what we have — some of which has literally been around the world for 3+ decades.  The landscaping was almost dsc02970.JPGdsc02965.JPGdsc02943.JPGall in by the time we left…lots of flowering trees and lovely dsc02947.JPGdsc02948.JPGdsc02813.JPGhot pink roses, bushy bright shrubs and promising perennials.  I’ll not try to list them.  You can identify them for me when you come visit as I’ll undoubtedly have forgotten what they are by then.  I am just thrilled with my own flight deck too.  I picture grandchildren practicing traps and cats for hours at a time!  dsc02936.JPGdsc02933.JPGdsc02978.JPGI also enjoyed the other plants around the farm — from ferns and wild strawberries to the corn that grew about two inches in the 30 hours we were there.  The big VIP opening party is tonight.

dsc02983.JPGDale and I are heading up early in the day.  We’ll drink champagne with the Parade judges and then head to a hotel at BWI from whence we can head to Tampa for the weekend to celebrate Jim’s retirement and Tom’s H.S. graduation.  I hope to finish up a cap and booties to go with the overalls I’ve made for my friend’s baby (yet to be smocked — the overalls, not the baby!)  And I’ll likely get another pair of socks started.

dsc02727.JPGdsc02973.JPGA very busy end to May and beginning of June, but it sure is fun!  Did I mention that we saw a giant rabbit?…and a bear?  (Just in case you were wondering about that expression about bears and their activities in the woods.)

Love, Jan

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