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Archive for January, 2008


Knitting as Therapy

Hi Ellen,

Hard to believe the weekend is already over. I did my best to spend it in “down time.” As I mentioned by e-mail, my FMS is flared up and I have been in energy preservation mode. Fortunately, knitting has a lot going for it when I’m feeling like this — it soothes my need to feel like I’m accomplishing something, it distracts me from the pain levels, it limbers up my hands and I can do it quietly in a warm chair listening to soothing music. So, I got a lot done.

The border of the wedding shawl is 75% complete, so I’d say that puts me easily at 95%. I did the rough math and the shawl will have approximately 45,000 stitches in it…easily add another 5,000 for the ones I’ve frogged. I’m feeling very accomplished that it will have been completed in roughly 3 months…of course it’s not yet done and the level of accomplishment will really be determined when I see the post-blocking results and the look on Marie’s face.

I took a break from the lace to knock out the last steps of a UFO that’s been sitting around since last summer. I made and felted the body of this handbag last June, but just never got to sewing on the handles or making and adding the embellishments. Engelbreit BagI’m calling it my Engelbreit Bag because the roses remind me of Mary Engelbreit’s artwork. Once again I am ruing that I did not keep pattern notes as I freestyled it. It’s been so long since I knitted it that I haven’t a clue regards stitch counts or number of rows, but I do remember the basic instruction set. Maybe I could write it up as a freestyle pattern letting users choose how long and deep they wanted it. It’s mostly out of bargain basement yarn I bought at a crafts store going out of business sale. I think I paid $0.50 for the Lion Brand Bolero “Very Berry” bulky wool multicolor yarn. The roses and the trim are both in Lion Brand basic wool — my preference for fun felting as it’s cheap and I get a pretty consistent felting rate out of it. It’s worsted weight. Rose DetailI doubled it for the trim to match the fabric weight of the bag, but the roses and leaves are single stranded. The pattern for the roses and leaves are adapted from Nicky Epstein’s, Knitting Never Felt Better.

I’m really very pleased with it. It will be a fun bag to carry when on casual outings…and I deliberately made it long enough for knitting needles!

I have a long week ahead of me…Time to head off to bed!

Happy Knitting Dreams! Love, Jan

Half done plus half done is done.

Dear Jan,

26.jpgWilson says I’m going to have a heart attack because I knit while I watch TV while I walk on the treadmill. But my head will be warm.

I’m happy with the adaptation to the Unoriginal Hat and the length of the crown is more right on than the last one. This version is extra cozy because that fleece is so cuddly. 110.jpgThe texture remains a big pull.

34.jpgNow I need another mindless knit for walking. It will probably keep me up tonight thinking about what it should be.

Love,

Ellen

Knitting Relief

Dear Ellen,

MOB DressNot that I want relief from knitting, but I am relieved that I found an alternate mother of the bride dress that already comes with a bolero…and have ordered it. Hopefully it will both fit and look okay. If it does, I will be greatly relieved as then I won’t have to worry about whether or not I can finish start my shrug in time. I’m seeing time slip away rather too quickly, so this really is a relief.

Nice to hear from Patty on the blog, wasn’t it! (Hi, Patty!)

Love, Jan

Well begun is half done…

19.jpgAnd so is a new Unoriginal Hat from the Yarn Harlot. I’m making a twist on this one, because I wanted to shorten the crown a bit, so I’m calling it the Twisted Unoriginal. The only change I’m making is to reduce the number of uncabled rows in the second repeat which should shorten the whole thing up by maybe half an inch or so. This hat will also be for donation, and to reduce the yarn in my stash. The particulars are US13 needles and Tahki Panda which is basically a very long narrow strip of fleece fabric. Very cushy and easy on the hands. I am knitting confidently because I am just past halfway and just finished with one of two skeins of this yarn that I possess.

Hope you are making it through the week all right,

Ellen

Happy MLK Birthday, celebrated with Fair Isle knitting.

Hi, Jan,

I was very happy to attend a local MLK birthday breakfast, where I got to hear Charlayne Hunter Gault of NPR and PBS fame speak quite eloquently about taking life’s challenges on with the protection of the armor of one’s values. 18.jpgShe is a funny and natural speaker, and she makes you want to go do good.

On that topic, Wilson and I have started tutoring once a week at a subsidized housing project. The kids absolutely crack me up. They are funny and bright and can be a handful, but it is a truly energizing way to start the week. And it is nice to do something together. The kids were shocked to hear we were married. They usually guess that Wilson is maybe 24 years old. I haven’t had the nerve to ask how old they think I am.

New project alert – I am knitting some Fair Isle mittens out of yarn that I’ve had for ages that I thought wanted to be a stocking cap, but when I saw the pattern for Colorwork Hat and Mittens in Interweave, Fall 2003, it just clicked. The perfect project for that yarn. I like how it is starting out, but sometimes it is hard to see which is the color and which is the grey yarn.25.jpg

Why was I looking in my Interweave Knits from 2003? I have become addicted to queuing things on Ravelry. It almost feels like casting them on. I have gone through all of my Interweaves and now have about as many Knitters to cover. Then the Vogue Knitting, which I’ve only recently subscribed to so don’t have as many, then the books. Oh, I already have a queue of 160 projects. This reinforces the idea that I will never knit everything I want to knit quite mightily, and yet I still want The Knitter’s Book of Yarn quite a lot.

Time is ticking down rapidly to when we leave for Korea.  So far we know the words for “lion” and “horse”.  This will be quite useful.

Love,

Ellen

Bridal Shower and Wedding Knitting

Dear Ellen,

Well, I’ve made it back to Portsmouth. It was a long week away…made mentally longer by an expectation I had that I would be home possibly Wednesday night and certainly no later than Thursday. Not making it back till Friday evening was draining.

Wedding Knitting in ProgressBorder DetailIt did give me time to make progress on wedding knitting. As reported last weekend, I’ve gotten a start on the border of the lace and this past week I did finish one of the socks I’m making Heart Detailfor Heidi. (Okay, so I need to weave in the last end, but I count that as essentially finished.) I’ve got the second sock started. Now that I’ve got the lace pattern solidly in my head, it makes for great knatting knitting. I seem to have trouble getting lace patterns memorized — am always double checking myself. Even the lace border, which is pretty straightforward, took about 10 repeats before I could do it without constantly looking back at the chart to see where I was. It will go faster now.

Here comes the brideSHeidi ApprovesHeidi with GuestsJan is so ProudThe bridal shower last week was a good success. Both Marie and Heidi seemed to really enjoy it. We didn’t go overboard on silly games, but we did have a few. Lovely Marie and Lovely AmyMarie and CaitlinTwo of Marie’s friends (Amy and Caitlin) were big helps in making the event happen. Amy put together a list of silly and serious questions about both Heidi and Marie and the guest with most correct answers got a little prize. Very revealing to see how much Heidi and Marie knew about each other! I got my usual amusement out of the “things she’ll say on her wedding night” bit…you know, where you write down what the bride says as she opens gifts and read them back as the script for the first night together on the honeymoon. My favorite line was, “Oooh!! Salad spinner!!” One could imagine many things…but I won’t offer ideas here so as to maintain our PG rating.

I am at the point of rescoping my whole shrug effort…it is very clear that I’d better plan for something less time intensive. I’ll try a few more swatches tomorrow in a heavier gauge yarn. I’m thinking larger gauge for speed, but lace pattern to avoid too much bulk. That baby alpaca you gave me for last year’s birthday could be awesome, except it’s the totally wrong color. I may have to go buy some yarn. You know how I hate that.

Okay, gotta get back to catching up on e-mail and some housework so I can curl up with needles and no guilt.

Love, Jan

Friday night finishes.

Hey, Jan,

After a long week (I accomplished a lot, but was really, really tired), what could I do but come home to hot chocolate, Bailey’s (for the creaminess it imparted, ha!), and knitting. Wilson and I watched a couple of videos on Korea and I worked on the Yarn Harlot’s Unoriginal Hat (November 6, 1997 post) in Pronto.17.jpg

This hat is texture personified. I also used it to practice doing cables without a cable needle.

24.jpgTwo Korean videos pretty much equals one Unoriginal Hat. That little bit of yarn to the side? That is literally all that was left over, including the bits snipped from the woven in ends. Talk about aggressive yarn management! Of course, I could have used slightly smaller needles (these were US11) and the hat would have been a smidge smaller. 53.jpgAs it is, there is plenty to pull down over the ears. I’d rather err on this side of things – too short hats are not only physically disturbing to me (cold ears! cold forehead!), but visually worrisome, as they look like they are going to fly off the wearer’s head.

33.jpgI had finished the EZ Baby Sweater knitting the other night and actually found some semi-suitable buttons in my button box, so I finished sewing those on. I put them on thread shanks, but they still wanted to pop through the buttonholes. This is why they are just semi-suitable. Still, the color was perfect, they were free (i.e. already possessed), and so I just took a few stitches in each buttonhole to stabilize them a bit. Not perfect, but really quite adequate.

43.jpgAs you may recall, I had run short on the yarn for this. I’d gotten some more online, different lot, but I figured that was not such a problem with synthetics. I was right as far as color goes, I couldn’t be happier with the match. The texture difference is what surprised me – the new yarn is much fuzzier and softer. You can see where I changed yarn if you look closely. I don’t think it matters for this quick knit baby sweater, and the baby will just like the bottom edge all the more.

8.jpg71.jpg61.jpgWe are darn cold here today, but it is very beautiful. We only get really cold when it is clear as a cloud layer holds the heat, and the deep snow and blue sky are stunning. I am admiring it from inside. The temperature when I took these photos just moments ago (roughly at noon) was -7F. Or for a more impressive number, -22C. Of course, that is a whopping 251K, so what am I whining about?

Looking at things from different perspectives, I am

Your loving sister,

Ellen

All dried out.

Dear Jan,

16.jpgI am very happy with how this finally turned out. It was worth all the frogging. I’m also virtually done with the EZ Baby Sweater, and since I can’t find the socks I was working on, I may actually have to start a new project. I do have my Forest Path shawl in the works, but it takes being alert and I need something that I can knit and chat (“knat?” “chit?”) at the same time. I am almost paralyzed by the options in front of me. I think I will take some magazines and books to bed and see what jumps out. If I were smart, I’d look at my stash, too.

Love,

Ellen

A refined feeling…

32.jpgThat of finishing the Refined Raglan and being pretty darn happy with it. The frogging theme set early on (see my mid-November posts) continued as I ripped out the neck hem several times before I liked the result and went back and took out the body hem and reknit it, as well. 15.jpgIt took switching to the lighter weight yarn after the purl row and going down a needle size. I went down two sizes on the body hem and liked it even better. 23.jpgI then carefully whipped the hem in place, after marking the depth in smooth cotton.

One thing I am noticing is the one inch length on each sleeve where I lengthened them without relaxing used yarn first. I thought it would relax during blocking, but it didn’t completely, or the use of kinky yarn left the stitches more uneven than expected. This Aran yarn has serious memory – even after undoing the body hem, the fabric kept folding back on the previous line until I blocked. But the new hem is flat as a pancake.42.jpg

52.jpgI love how the raglan trim blocked out so smooth and yet so curvy. After it finishes drying, I’ll get a shot of it going around my curves. It is considered finished even if it isn’t dry, isn’t it?

Love,

Ellen

Just a Taste

Dear Ellen,

Marie in BonnetIt’s late, the last 7 days have been crazy and I leave on travel for the week tomorrow.  So…this post will be very short.  Enough to prove I am alive and that we did have Marie’s bridal shower today.

When I get back, I’ll diligently post more photos and news.  This will have to hold you till I get back.

Oh…I did get about 1/6 of the border of the wedding shawl knit while on the drive to and from DC.  As I was also figuring that bit out, I’m not too displeased with the progress.  Am leaving it here — at this point, don’t want to risk losing it on some flight — and will work on Heidi’s socks on the trip.

Love, Jan