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

Archive for April, 2008


He was a great cat.

Dear Jan,

45.jpg19.jpg27.jpg35.jpgThere is a cat-shaped hole in our hearts today. We’ll get another cat someday, but not right away. It took 18 years to make that hole – it’s going to take a long time to fill it.

Love, Ellen

One Day Turnaround

Hi Ellen!

I’m sorry to hear Pearl and Judit are not in top form…I know it causes you worry and extra work, both bring extra stress — a commodity of which we each have way too much lately. I hope they both see turnarounds in the near future.

I missed my dogs this week. We were in Colorado Springs scoping out the new location and I was taking the chance to have some face-to-face turnover with the guy who is my predecessor. As he departs next week (and I don’t get there until the 26th at the earliest) the trip was very worthwhile so I could get the lay of the land and some staff insights from him. I did get to meet a lot of the staff and my colleagues and I feel pretty good about the job and the potential we have to make NORAD/NORTHCOM more effective.

Dale drove Sammy out and she will sit in a friend’s driveway till we return. Now we only have Bobbie left here so we can drive out together when we head out for real. I’m grateful he did it…we’ll be able to swap drivers and I won’t be as exhausted as Dale was when he arrived after doing it on his own. We’ll have the dogs in the car with us too — that’ll be fun — I hope! Anyway, it was great to have him there the last two days of my visit. He worked with housing to try and figure out the game plan for our quarters which at the moment is not entirely acceptable, but we’ll work it through and in any case, we’ll have a secure roof over our heads, so I’m not going to lose too much sleep over it.

We then both headed to Sierra Vista, Arizona where his brother Jim is stationed. Jan and Jim at PromoI had business to do with two of the local commands and the timing worked out perfectly that I was able to promote Jim before those appointments. It was a very nice ceremony and Dale was beaming throughout. He’s very proud of his little brother. The sun made it very difficult for pictures — Promotion Crowdblazing white that washed everything out. Here’s one anyway. I started my remarks by taking pictures of the crowd since people in the ceremony never have that picture for their scrapbook and that’s the perspective they see and remember. Dale pulled 4 images together to make the panoramic. He has software that does it, but I’m still impressed.

I took leftover yarn from the wedding shawl with me. I also brought needles, but left the pattern I was going to use sitting at home, so I was on my own. I decided I would design my own shrug and with the aim of trying to get it published on Knitty if I can. To support their publication requirements, I won’t be able to show it here, but I can show you the pattern stitch that comprises the fabric. It’s from Barbara Walker’s First Long-Slipped Textured PatternCollection and is the Long-Slipped Textured Pattern. The yarn is Jade Sapphire Cashmere Silk in color mallard. I’m going to work in some colorwork on the front by making the slip row in a natural off-white color. Depending on how far the yarn goes, I may also do the sleeves in the off-white and I plan on finishing edges with applied i-cord in the off-white as well. The fabric is wonderful — light and silky to the touch, yet warm. I’m thinking it will work well in the Springs. From talking to friends out there and hearing their descriptions of winter and what they consider to be warm, Dale is worried that I am actually moving him to Minnesota.

Gotta go…another trip awaits tomorrow and before that laundry, some more packing preps and then packing for the trip!

Love, Jan

Nothing is as lovely as a day in Spring, which may be all we end up having here!

44.jpg54.jpgDear Jan,

We were getting cocky here in Minnesota. Several days with temps above 70F led us to believe spring was actually here. The maples were blooming, the Virginia bluebells in my garden were coming up…and then this. 64.jpg

I suppose you got a taste of it in Colorado, but at least in the mountains, one expects some snow into early summer even. My biggest concern is that we will skip spring all together and go straight to summer after this is over.

To add insult to injury, I got my first nasty cold of the 07/08 winter as a harbinger of the snow storm. It didn’t help that I had business dinners on Wednesday and Thursday and so never really got to rest and recover. At least with the yucky weather today I don’t have to feel bad about not being outside gardening.

I watched dumb TV (though I did learn some tips for surviving a fall through the ice – with the weather today, it may come in handy) and knit all last night as therapy . I will spend part of my morning today ripping out what I knit last night. 34.jpgI suppose the cold funk kept me from realizing just how sloppy the heel was on this sock. I need to make the heel flap a few stitches narrower and perhaps execute it in a stitch that will also help draw it in a bit, then I think I will like the fit of this self-designed thing. The cuff pattern, which I will keep, is called Cloverleaf Rib and is from Barbara Walker’s 3rd book, I think. It is a super simple pattern to memorize and gives enough of a rib to structure the cuff. I’m undecided as to weather (I mean, whether, LOL!) to add some plain ribbing at the top or not.

We are pretty concerned about Pearl. He’s lost another pound and is eating even less. We’ve tried tempting him with salmon, kitty treats, chicken livers, etc., but he only nibbles. He still enjoys curling up in laps and follows us around the house. I hope it warms up again soon so he can enjoy curling up in the sunshine on the deck.

I will join him.

Love,

Ellen

It’s here.

Suddenly, overnight, spring arrived.

Judit and I went for a walk and found lots of evidence. The butterfly even landed on Judit’s bum, but she wouldn’t stand still long enough to get a picture.

17.jpg33.jpg43.jpg53.jpg26.jpg

I even got the bike cleaned up and went for a short ride. It didn’t seem to bother my back/leg at all, I am so happy to say. I have missed being able to burn off some adrenaline by really exerting myself. I think Wilson has missed me being able to do that, too, but he hasn’t complained.

Oh, yes, Forest Darkness is here, too. I am all grins. 63.jpg

The yarns are hand dyed in Sweden to match the original yarns. I am told that angora is quite challenging to dye to match, and the woman who does this is of an age where one wouldn’t blame her if she decided to retire, at which point it may be very difficult to get material so close to the original Bohus yarns. I’m glad I took the plunge and got a piece of knitting heritage that might not be available in a decade, or less. Wilson is pretty proud of the birthday gift he has pregiven me. He even made me show it to Jenny via Skype when we chatted today.

Jenny is basically fine, but still getting over another illness undoubtedly given to her by the kids in her classes. Too bad she won’t be in Korea next year to take advantage of all this new aquired immunity she has.

I am going to try to finish up a hat for Becky’s 50th birthday before I let myself start on the Bohus. Her party was yesterday and she said no gifts, but I am taking that to mean for the party. She gave us all the gift of a discussion on Health Care Directives and copies of all the forms we need to fill out. It was good – lot’s of the folks at the party had gone through family situations and, of course, Becky and Mike had the medical perspective. It turns out that Minnesota, while not having a death with dignity law, does do excellent palliative care which can include drugs for pain even if they might shorten a patient’s life.

The funniest comment of the night, to me, was when Claire, who is now 16 and listened in on everything, told me in all seriousness and as a compliment, that it was really great that we could talk about death when it was so close to us. I asked her how close she thought it was! An excellent readjustment of my self perception – oh, yes, I am “old” to people who are 16.

But with spring here, I am feeling pretty young today.

Love,

Ellen

P.S. Good luck with the move. It is a big job, I know, and I can’t really think of anything to make it better. I do suggest you let the boxes sit around a few days once they make it to the Springs – you can’t deal with altitude sickness and unpacking all at the same time!

No Rest for the Weary

Hi Ellen!

This would be the perfect day to curl up in front of a good movie with hot tea and an intricate knitting project. It’s rainy and blah outside and Dale just took off to drive across country to Colorado Springs so I have the house to myself. Okay, so that’s a nice thought, but instead I have a to-do list to get ready for the move that’s a mile long. It includes going in to work today to try to get some things in order before I fly out to Colorado Springs in the morning to conduct face-to-face turnover with my predecessor who detaches before I officially report. Dale’s purpose is to get one of the cars out there so we’ll both be in one car when we actually do the move in May. We’ll both fly down to Sierra Vista, AZ Thursday night. I have to visit Army’s Network Command and it’s a happy coincidence that Jim is stationed there and has arranged to have his promotion ceremony a few days early (would’ve been 1 May) so we can be part of it.

As far as knitting goes today I don’t think much will be on the agenda, I will at least figure out a project to carry along with me — believe it or not, the UFO list is getting short. I have to seam the tunic and I have a cardigan with only sleeves remaining. Other than that, the needles are bare. I would take the cardigan, but it involves 4 skeins at once to support color changes and that’s way too much yarn to deal with while knitting on airplanes. I’m going to try to be fairly monogamous till we get quasi-resettled, so I’ll pick out just one thing to put on the pointy sticks…if I can.

Capital StepsLittle Capitals Stitch PatternThis means that the Capital Steps socks are completed. I’m very happy with them…SO very comfy! And I am enchanted with the pattern (the close up is much truer to actual color of the socks — I scanned it vice photographing. Worked great!) It makes me want to play with graphing and swatching some traveling and intertwining stitch patterns of my own. The reverse stockinette sole is to die for and I got the foot circumference and length perfect this time. I’ll wear them lots. I wish I’d added more reinforcing in the heel.

Jenny and JuditKaren and JuditI also found some sweet pictures of Judit the puppy and some lovely young ladies. (They were in my cruise mementos from USS EISENHOWER — I remember they had been in the bunch of photos taped to the bottom of the rack (bunk bed for you landlubbers) above me so I could see family before I went to sleep and when I woke up.) I thought you might be able to look at these — not to remind you of yet another time when she was accident prone, but to say, “Awww! She’s so cute!” and then you might not be so irritated with her for whatever GI issues she’s having right now.

Gotta run…packing and office work await.

Love, Jan

Dear Jan,

25.jpgThe fascination continues. No second wristlet syndrome here – I picked up my Bohus yarns every chance I got. Here is the set. They are going to be fun peaking out from under my shirts, and I think I’ll really appreciate them this summer when air conditioning is excessive.

16.jpg13.jpgIt is one of those quirks of knitting that something on size 0 needles zipped by, while my sleeves on size 3’s are taking longer than forever. I am comparing tonight’s picture to one from a while ago, just to confirm that I have made progress, and the sad thing is it doesn’t look like I have. I know I have knit on these, I’m sure of it. (But don’t you dig those crescent moons that appeared in both sleeves – despite starting randomly in the middle of one skein?)

Other than a mixed bag of knitting, it has been a so-so week. Both of us got a touch of something – maybe the flu vaccine worked and we only got a tiny case of the flu, but it has sent us to bed early and even sent me home from work early one day. Wilson is such a stoic, he’d have to be bleeding from a major artery to miss work, but even he hasn’t been staying up playing chess on the internet. Fortunately we seem to be recovering for the weekend.

Judit is stretching our patience, too. We are having more accidents. She is spending more days penned in the basement bathroom, and I’m afraid we need to do it at night, too. I am hoping it doesn’t mean whining and barking. I’m pretty sure that would set us back.

On a positive note, Pearl is doing quite well. We’ve backed off doing the subcutaneous fluids to about every 3 days and he seems pretty peppy. It is clear he is an old kitty, though. But he still enjoys his catnip, and he still finds his litter box.

I hope they can say that about me when I’m almost 18 in cat years.

You, too. Love,

Ellen

Oh Boy, Bohus!

Hi, Jan,

24.jpgYesterday was my day at Yarnover, the MN Knitting Guild annual event with classes and markets. It was super. The market was great and there was some stash and library enhancement, but I’ll blog about that later. One exception who deserves an early callout is Jennie the Potter. She is local talent and it is so fun to cross paths with her occasionally – not only are her wares delightful, but so is she. Here she is with Kathy, discussing these sweet dishes, some of which made it into my cupboard, too.

72.jpgAnother exception – Beth Brown-Reinsel brought me a copy of her Gansey book. I consider this the best guide I’ve seen to designing an authentic gansey and I hope to follow up the purchase with just that effort. She was very gracious, and I enjoyed meeting her a great deal.

62.jpg52.jpg42.jpg The growth opportunity for me (versus my stash) was in the class I took – Bohus Stickning from Susanna Hansson. Susanna is a great teacher. She set us to winding our little balls of lovely angora/merino and knitting our ribbed edging while she covered historical lecture stuff – and throughout the knitting time she kept adding great segments on haute couture marketing, Swedish history, yarn dyeing, etc. There was never any down time in the nearly 6 hour class, really. I loved that she kept referring to us as “accomplished knitters”. (Karen & Jenny, if the class looks familiar, it is because it was in W114 at Hopkins High.)

121.jpgSusanna is also a fabulous activist for Bohus knitting. She really explained what it was about, which is, in way too brief, haute couture and helping women in hard times. There is plenty written on it, so I won’t bore you here. What I don’t think I can capture and wish I could is how seeing the vintage sweaters that Susanna has collected takes all the history to a new level. When you see this 8 st/inch knitting and the way the angoral halos and makes them shimmer in person, and when you understand why they are designed the way they were, and you hear how Solveig Gustafsson works to carefully replicate one or two of the over 400 designs each year, dyeing the accent yarns herself, and then you get to actually pick them up and examine their construction, there is nothing you can do but go home and immediately order a kit. I will try to let Wilson know that he has a birthday present all lined up for me before he reads it here. (I went for Forest Darkness, the design shown below.)

82.jpgI’ve included just one teaser shot of the vintage sweaters, plus a shot of Susan holding up Blue Shimmer, the pattern upon which our class project of wristlets was based. If you want to see more, and I highly recommend it, look at the high resolution pictures I’ve posted to Flickr.

151.jpgHere is my wristlet. I finished about 40% of it in class and couldn’t stop when I got home. I have one more to do (and ends to weave in), but I think it takes awhile to get packages from Sweden, so that works.

Love,

15.jpgEllen (and Judit, who thinks I am spending way too much time at knitting events lately)

…Of course we’re moving…

Hi Ellen!

Three weeks ago we finally hung the last of the pictures that we wanted to put up in this house. After 8 months of poorly conceived efforts Cox Cable figured out what was wrong with the configuration here on base and we now have perfect HDTV and lightning fast internet. The extreme frustration and hard work to untangle the dysfunctional organization at work is just starting to pay dividends and morale is heading upwards. Dale got offered the chance to supervise execution of a NASA grant at the Virginia Air and Space Museum AND a position with Nauticus, the landmark maritime museum in Norfolk. I found a hair stylist. And this morning I attended a knitting group with which I fell in love. Yes, that’s right, it’s time to move.

We’ll be uprooting next month and heading out to Colorado Springs. (I was going to add the state, but figured you knew it was Colorado.) The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Northern Command (NORTHCOM) are both headquartered there on Peterson Air Force Base. Because it’s an Air Force base, we will have access to an excellent officer’s club, golf course, fitness center, recreational center, shopping facilities and housing. Oh…and they do have an airfield too. We’ll be packing household goods the 14th and 15th of May, shipping them on the 16th and actually leaving Norfolk on the 21st. Allen’s graduation from Supply School is the 23rd, so we’ll head down there and then either head straight out to ‘the Springs’ (as I’m told we are to refer to it if we don’t want to stand out as outsiders) or do a drive-by through Ohio. I have to be there the 29th, so in any case, we’ll get a lot of miles under our wheels. The job is a really good one — working in the J6 for both commands. That’s the communications and computer networks for both. It will require a lot of work with state, tribal and local governments, non-governmental agencies like Red Cross, and other nations. The mission is both defense of the continent and providing military support to civil agencies in response to natural disasters or other crises. Yes, I am pleased about the opportunity, though I would rather have made the move about 3-4 months from now.

Yarn For Breakfast GroupAs for the knitting group, I found it when Dale and I stopped in the local coffee shop and discovered they hosted a knitting group. The waitress took my e-mail address and promised to pass it on to the group the next time they were there. She did and they contacted me and I was able to join them this morning. The group is Yarn For Breakfastcalled “Yarn for Breakfast” as it meets in the AM (though they’ve spun off “Yarn for Supper” for an evening gathering as well.) Yarn for Breakfast is both low fat and high fiber.

I talked two friends (Pat and Kathy) into joining me. Kathy is a lightning fast knitter and Pat is a remarkable beginner. PatKathyThat’s Pat showing off her dishcloth first project. Kathy is working on the first sleeve for a ribbed raglan she’s making. We all had fun with these ladies. They are a wonderfully eclectic and fun group of knitters of all levels of experience. It was a great three hours of knitting and talking and drinking great coffee. All this and it’s less than a mile from my house. If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard.

Spring FlowersSpeaking of the back yard. It’s really greening up…and look what I found!

I know I still owe a photo of the capital steps socks, but you may have to wait till I finish sock number two. It’s about a third of the way done, so that shouldn’t be too long.

Love, Jan

A knitting sandwich with TGIF for the meat

Hi, Jan,

Sure wish you could have been with Kathy and me last night. We were front and center (well, 2nd and 3rd row, kind of off to the right) at the Yarn Harlot event in St. Paul. I’m hoping you’ll be able to spot us when she posts about the event. It looks like Kathy was banished to the 3rd row, but really the woman next to us was saving spots for friends…who never came. But hey, we were close enough to grin at each other (over and over – S P-M was so funny), and as Kathy said aftewards, if we’d been next to each other we would have egged each other on way too much and probably would have been insufferable to the rest of the audience.

14.jpgThe Yarnery did an excellent job. They had a translator for the hearing impaired – it was so fun watching her sign all the emotions of the audience. 23.jpgThey had the Yarnery Family Singers (my favorite song was “My Favorite Things” – with the very funny interlude of “when the yarn splits, when the stitch drops, when I’m out of wine…”). 71.jpgThey had door prizes and knitting bags. They had the words to “O, Canada” printed out for a group sing.

And of course, they had the Harlot. She was, no surprise, funny, but what delighted both Kathy and I was her incredible comic timing and deadpan delivery. It will make reading her books so much more fun even than they already are to hear her lovely Canadian accent in my mind’s ear.

I’m sure I made an impression on her (HAH! – maybe as a slobbering idiot!). 41.jpgHere we are discussing the perils of raising teenagers and I am reassuring her they turn out to be really excellent human beings. 61.jpgAnd here she holds my socks and I get the honor of holding hers. Socks in my case because I brought size 0’s to work with a yarn that really needed 2’s. Kathy the Enabler pointed out that I’d be way happier if I just went out to the lobby and bought new needles as I was all abother about how dense the sock was working up to be. (Yes, the Yarnery also brought the store.) 51.jpgI am not sure why Kathy took pictures of the sock yarn and Hershey’s kisses, but in case it was important I include it here, too.

And then there were the other knitters. Fabulous stuff, and I really should have been kinnearing like crazy to capture the wonderful Kaunis and miters and Fair Isles and Arans. 32.jpgThe only shot I took was surely the coolest piece of the night – Mome-Rath’s Fair Isle knit broadside. Read all about her art on her blog. She explains the intent of the piece and its sisters far better than I could.

I think this was what is going to linger – some new connections, memories of a hoot with Kathy, the feeling of power in that room of close to a thousand knitters.

And today I got to remind myself that it was Friday and tomorrow is the MN Knitting Guild Yarnover. I’m taking a class on Bohus knitting from Susanna Hansson. I’m going to try to participate in the 1,000 Knitters project. I’m going to be blissfully uncaring that Mother Nature is once again gracing Minnesota with several inches of slush.

Now how good is that, eh?

Love,

Ellen

P.S.  And don’t think for a moment that I didn’t think of you during the event.  Watch the mail – birthday might come early this year.

Dog Days of Spring

Hi Ellen!

I finished the first of the Capital Steps socks. I had to go there — with a stitch pattern called Little Capitals used on socks, how can I be blamed? The second one has the toe started. I’m very pleased with the first. As hoped, the gusset isn’t an issue as the stitch is quite stretchy and the sole is to die for! I will do the reverse stockinette sole for almost all my socks from now on. I’ll get a picture up soon. The camera was upstairs and I didn’t have the energy to run up and get it…so far away…maybe 90 feet…possibly 60.

Waiting for Tummy RubsI do have pictures of the doggies from this morning though. You can see how very tough their lives are. They are forced to wait extraordinary amounts of time while lying on their backs just to give us the privilege of rubbing their tummies. And then we rub them so soundly that they are exhausted Sated by Tummy Rubsand must sleep the rest of the day…except for when they must play in the yard or eat snacks.

Love, Jan