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Archive for February, 2008


The Miracle of Wet Blocking

Hi Ellen!

Lo this many a year I have resisted wet blocking. Too much hassle when you can just steam block, right? How can I afford the time to let it dry? Surely it doesn’t make that much difference, does it? Okay, I am so very wrong.

Entrelac BlockedI realized I had no choice but to wet block Marie’s shawl…it had to be done that way. And it wasn’t so terribly traumatic. I also was a little surprised (naively so, I suppose) at how much it stretched out. With this in mind I considered that short entrelac scarf that I finished last week. It needed to be longer. So, it sat on the edge of the bathtub till yesterday just waiting for me to see if the stretch factor only applied to lace, or if it would also work on stockinette — and yesterday, it took a soak and then a stretch. Now it is of completely satisfactory length and I am quite pleased. The entrelac blocks are a bit more diamond-like, but with a nice aesthetic.

Sweater and ScarfWhen I saw how much the wet blocking did for the length of the scarf, I pulled out the “Sally’s Favorite Sweater” that I knit over the summer that had somehow ended up wider than it was long. (As it was supposed to be a tunic, this was not good.) I broke the side stitching to allow the pieces to stretch and gave it a soak too. Amazing…it is now longer than wide and may possibly be wearable! The sleeves look kind of skinny, but I don’t like wide sleeves, so I think I’m good with them.  Once it’s dry, I’ll try it on again and let you know.

Lily of the Valley ScarfI’ve started a new scarf based on the Lily of the Valley stitch pattern. Frankly, it’s kicking my butt a bit. I need to chart the lace pattern as the pattern book I have has it written out and I keep losing my place. Also, I’m using a Donegal yarn that is surprisingly unpleasant to knit. Little give and lots of scratch. I had planned this for the Red Scarf Project in the first place. I won’t miss it when I give it away.

Love, Jan

Cold, clear, with a bit of moon.

When it is clear here, it can get quite cold, but when it also means you get a chance to see this, that’s ok.

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Peace,

Ellen

Keep Christmas with you, all through the year.

Surprise! Wilson got the last Christmas present of the 2007 season today. Karen has been busy knitting her favorite daddy a warm scarf, and it arrived just in time for the -35F windchills predicted for tonight. 113.jpgHere he is wearing it. Do not confuse him with a little Asian girl (they always make the peace sign when they pose for pictures). 213.jpgAnd here is some detail from the scarf. I’m betting you can eventually find some more info on this scarf at White Coat Knitter.

I’m still making progress on the front of Kalbi – only about 4 more inches to knit on the front straps and I can move on from ribbing, ribbing, ribbing to wonderfully mindless garter stitch for the sleeves. Knitting a simple pattern with Kid Silk Haze is like having a sleeping kitten in your lap – doesn’t require much thought from you, and you get the fun of petting it all you want.

Love,

Ellen

A Lot On Which to Catch Up

Dear Ellen,

It seems like forever since I’ve posted a proper note…I guess in the blogosphere 2+ weeks is forever. Hopefully I’ll do better in coming weeks, but there is that pesky wedding thing. As it is, this post will be heavy on photos and light on words. Many may prefer it that way.

New Cooper SFirst, let me introduce you to our new car. Sammy (whom you can just see in the background) likes her very much. She is very British and very much a tomboy. Her name is Roberta, but we call her Bobby. At least we think her name is Roberta…somehow it’s not quite as certain as Samuela was for Sammy, so I’m wondering if she’s having an identity crisis.

Shawl Blocking As previously reported, the knitting on the wedding shawl is complete. Here it is drying out in the blocking process. The red-orange stick next to it is a standard yardstick, so that Shawl Close Upshould give you a good sense for it’s size. Here’s some of the detail. I think it’s lovely — some laddering, but it is my first real lace project, so I’m pretty pleased with the overall result. I guess this is my own opportunity to feel a bit smug. I think I told you that it’s around 46,000 stitches, so not half bad for a first lace project. I am going to have to talk Marie into letting me borrow it right after the wedding as I want to bring it in to Guild so the ladies can see how it turned out. They’ve been following it for 4 months, so I feel like I owe them.

Heidi’s SocksSock DetailHeidi’s socks got blocked too. They were too long for a single set of sock blockers, so I had to improvise and insert the medium blockers into the tops of the large blockers. She has size 11 feet and wanted knee socks. I hope she likes them. They didn’t have 46,000 stitches, but size 11 knee socks can feel like they go on forever — especially when knitting sock number two!

Max and IrisThe dogs have been good enough to leave the shawl alone as it dries. Frankly, they are far more interested in playing outside. Here’s Max with our confused Irises. He looks a little confused too. But moments later he decided to look more regal as he surveyed his territory for Surveying the TerritoryCan  I come in now?miscreant squirrels. Ruby was his trusted assistant, but she got bored and sought to return to the indoor treasure trove of stuffed toys with which we have indulged the two of them. They really do have a pretty good deal for former Neopolitan street dogs! They were quite pleased with Uno’s victory in the Westminster. Though he’s a purebred, they felt he was much more a commoner’s dog than the other entries.

Entrelac First TryEntrelac Artsy Close UpI did a little more knitting today as well. I finished the entrelac scarf that I was working on with the sole purpose of learning entrelac. It’s a bit on the short side — I probably should have made it a “block” narrower to get more length, but as long as the recipient wants a single wrap for their neck, it will be fine. Do you like the artistic black and white effect? I’ll block it this week — will see if I can’t get a smidge more length out of it. It’s probably destined for the red scarf project next December.

Visiting with AltonI had to fish out the photo of Dale and I when we got to meet Alton Brown a few years ago. I doubt he remembers, so I wouldn’t bother bringing it up when you meet him in March. It was exciting for him at the time, but he probably has a Sailor in every port.

Love, Jan

Oh, weekend, why do you go so fast?

Hi, Jan,

The weekend has been so satisfying. Well, except that it hasn’t. If it were truly satisfying, I’d be ready to go back to work, and I surely am not. I’ve accomplished a lot, which feels good, but I guess is only on the way to satisfying.

I spent yesterday accumulating a store of smug-osity by cleaning up my office – all of those piles of magazines, catalogs, junk mail, non-junk mail, even the crate of crud we moved out of the minivan when we donated it – all of them, gone (or at least neatly relegated to baskets, files, periphery of the office instead of covering the carpet in a continuous mulch). I am not sharing a picture of this wonder, as I don’t care to put my definition of “clean office” to be put up for public scrutiny. Still, you can walk around and access the bookshelves.

42.jpgI then got up and went to church this morning. There are many good reasons to be Unitarian Universalist, but the one that hit me today was that knitting is not just allowed, it is almost expected during the sermon. Perhaps this isn’t true at other UU churches, but at least ours has established this as a rule. The woman in front of me was working on a super Aran sweater, there was yarn coming out of a purse a few pews further up (it is not yet considered acceptable to rove about the sanctuary during service to admire works in progress so I’m not sure what was going on there), and I worked on my Fair Isle mitts. I got another cuff done.

112.jpgI came home and went into a fit of vegetable chopping – aromatics with which to cook some beans, more aromatics and cauliflower for cauliflower brie soup, and bunches more of everything for Greek salad makings . The soup was a fabulous lunch, the beans and salad will be dinner, and we’ll eat off the leftovers for the week.

At this point, my self smug-o-meter was red-lining.

I took myself down a peg by demonstrating total lack of will power. I was going to The Yarnery, a yarn store over in St. Paul, to pick up tickets to the Yarn Harlot event (April 10). 51.jpgThat’s all I was doing, picking up tickets. And maybe buying a new sweater defuzzer (depiller?), which wasn’t in stock anyway. So how did I come out with this?

At least they complimented a sweater I’d knit several years ago, from Meg Swanson Knitting. The pattern is called Faroese Sweater Variations because Meg has you use 3 different motifs – one for the front, one for the back, and one for the sleeves. I like the way you can see all three in the first photo. The second photo is me smiling at a star in my hand, apparently. The yarn, (from Coldwater Collaborative) is great to knit – Harrisville Designs Soft Spun, 80% wool and 20% flax. It is barely spun and you almost felt like you were knitting roving.36.jpg212.jpg

The sweater compliment alone would have restored my smugness, but then I missed my exit on the way home, an exit I’ve taken dozens, probably hundreds of times. I’m still a weenie, I guess.

But a weenie with a lot of nice yarn.

Have a great week.

Ellen

P.S. I hope you caught that I get to see the Yarn Harlot in about 2 months. Maybe if you are nice to me I’ll let you touch my sleeve.

P.P.S. And in March I get to see Alton Brown speak and maybe even take him to dinner. I may have to rescind the sleeve offer.

P.P.P.S.  This just in – I left the computer to check the beans to find they had started to burn.  I hope Wilson likes beans and weenie, as that is what he is getting for dinner.

Korea III: The knitting part

Hi…I mean, anyong haseyo,

It was fun to spend a week or so with another knitter. Jenny was working on washcloths (Kim’s mom is a teacher who wants to give washcloths to a group she is in, so she started a sweat shop of Kim and Jenny). 27.jpgHere Kim and Jenny kill time before having fish eat their feet.

19.jpg I worked hard on Liz Nields’ Cabernet Ribs from Interweave Knits Winter 2006. I am calling it Kalbi because grilled ribs, or kalbi, are the specialty of Suwon, the town (of 1 million) where Jenny lives. I finished the back and am about halfway through the front. That k1p1 ribbing sure takes awhile. I have mastered purling in continental style, via combination knitting.

I saw inspiration for designs all over. 23.jpgDoesn’t this wall look like a cable pattern? 15.jpg14.jpgAnd I thought that these colors and designs scream fair isle pullover. Let’s see if I act on that sometime.

Bye for now…I mean, annyonghi kyesayo,

Ellen

Korea II: The Jenny part

Hi, again,

So, despite Jenny being in Korea for 6 months, we really didn’t know much about her job or her life. Being in Korea with her really helped us understand. She isn’t wildly enthusiastic about living in Korea, but she is okay with it, and I know she wil eventually discover how much she is gaining from the experience.

Being there we saw how hard it is for a vegetarian/piscevore to have fun exploring the cuisine. The Korean restaurants specialize, so if one of her friends wants to eat meat, they go to a restaurant that has virtually no vegetarian options beyond kimchi and steamed rice. She doesn’t actually enjoy fish – she is just eating it to have a little more variety available. Her hours are unusual – working from afternoon through the evening, so most of her socializing is with her American friends who are teaching, too, which also limits exploring the culture.

110.jpgHer apartment is tiny, but has all she needs. It is a bit bigger than your average dorm room. 34.jpg18.jpgIt’s in a great location – just blocks from the happening part of town yet right next to a green space and on a quiet street. 32.jpgShe is just a couple of blocks from work at the International Leaders Club, a private English language school. 35.jpg210.jpgIt’s an easy walk.

Korea may not truly excite Jenny, but some of her kids really do, and from what we got to see when the kids came to class, some of them really love Teacher.33.jpg

I can’t blame them.

Love,

Ellen

Korea I: The tourist part

Hi, Jan,

I have culled my pictures down to about 420 and then again to about 32 for sharing on the blog. egads, too many! Well, I’ll break it into 3 parts, then. This part will focus on the touristy aspects of the trip.

11.jpgAs soon as we arrived in Korea, we jumped on another plane and headed to Jeju Island, just off the southern tip. We arrived to find that the Giants had just won the Super Bowl. 21.jpgJeju is the warmest part of Korea, which meant it was above freezing most of the time we were there. We kept hypothesizing that it must be a beautiful place 9 months of the year – too bad we were there in the 3 brown months. 31.jpgThere were still some lovely things, though, like what was claimed to be one of the few if not the only Asian waterfalls to fall directly into the sea.

Jeju is known for their grandfather rocks, the Dolharubang. 6.jpgWe liked them a lot. 26.jpgMaybe a bit too much. (The young lady not wearing pink is Kim, Jenny’s buddy.)

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There were lots of friendly animals.

9.jpgWe hiked way up high to the top of a volcanic crater…10.jpg

.111.jpg..and way down low into a massive lava tube.

7.jpgWe admired the “piles of small stones” (as described on the tour website) which turned out to be wish totems. 8.jpgWilson made his own wish.

And we admired the rock formations on the seaside. 12.jpgThis one is Odalgae, the lonely one.

We left Jeju for Seoul. We got there on the Lunar New Year, which means we got to see lots of people in traditional clothing but I wasn’t bright enough to take a picture. Many things were closed, but we did go to the War Memorial. I imagine you’ve studied MacArthur’s invasion at Incheon during the Korean War in War College. We were impressed by how many interests were at stake in the war. It was a moving experience. 16.jpgHere is one shot from there – a statue of two Korean brothers, one fighting for the north, one for the south, meeting in love on the battlefield.

After one day in Seoul we headed south to Suwon, where Jenny lives. 22.jpg211.jpgWe played around at the Suwon folk village and then watched more talented people play around some more.24.jpg25.jpg

The eating in Suwon was good. Some of us liked tentacles; some of us liked Baskin Robbins.17.jpg311.jpg

The craziest thing we did was visit the Book Cafe and Spa, where for a mere 2,000 Korean won you can do this.28.jpg

The little fish in that tank are eating the dead skin right off our feet! 29.jpg

And on our last full day in Suwon, Wilson and I visited Suwon’s past with a climb of the ancient Hwaesong fortress wall. 30.jpgWe did the entire circuit – about 6 km. Not all of it was straight up.

Parts II and III coming after dinner!

Love,

Ellen

Hiatus Almost Over

Hi Ellen!

The hiatus from site maintenance that is…was traveling all last week and brought home a virus that threw me to the deck and stomped on me.  I’m just about back at it…and can report completion of the shawl and the socks!  I have to block both of them yet, but the knitting and weaving in is all done.

I can’t wait to see your pictures and to get pictures of these FOs taken and posted!

Love, Jan

The world should get a vote

Yesterday we went to the Suwon Korean Folk Village.  There was some cool stuff, like the way they heat their floors with wood fires underneath the house or the spinning and weaving stuff.  When I get home and can add pictures I’ll add more. 

A fun but unphotographed moment on the way back to the hotel was trying to talk to the cab driver, who had about 4 English words.  Interestingly enough, two of those words were Obama and Hillary.  He managed to communicate that he was for Obama.

We think the rest of the world should get about a 20% say in our election.  It sure would have helped last time around.

More later,

Ellen