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

Archive for June, 2008

It’s bean* pretty cold around here…


We can’t seem to break free of spring weather and get into real bean growing temps. Nevertheless, we have filled out the rows pretty well and you can see the beginnings of trifoliate leaves. It just doesn’t get dull around here, you know.

32.jpgOne interesting thing is the growth habit of the golden brown seeds vs. the maroon seeds. These aren’t the best pictures, sorry, but if you look close you can see how the (GA – geek alert!) first set of trifoliates in the one picture are below the canopy of the primaries, but the first trifoliates in the second photo are significantly above the primaries. Furthermore, the internodal distance to the 2nd trifoliate bud is much longer. I am wondering if we aren’t seeing some runner or half runner beans developing here. Stay posted for the exciting conclusion! (if it ever gets warm here) 42.jpg

(Some of you who are extra observant may be wondering if I’ve slipped in some adzuki beans. No, the cotyledons have mostly shriveled now, which is why they aren’t so obvious. You were thinking they remained underground, weren’t you, and the plants had demonstrated epicotyl growth, a trait of adzukis. Even though you were wrong, 5 extra marks for Gryffendor.)

62.jpgShowing even slower growth is Deep into the Forest. I knit another 45 minutes and got 3 more rows done (though easier to knit, they seemed to take as long. Sheesh, that is like 7 stitches a minute!). I will try to not make you weep in boredom by posting daily photos of DITF, but I will update my Ravelry project with this sort of insane minutia.

A quick crop share report: lettuce, arugala, spinach, radishes and 3 beautiful green pac choy. We feel healthier already.



* This may become known as the summer of bad leguminous humor, starting with my last post. I will take full responsibility and apologize in advance.

A matter of scale…

Hi, Jan,

I’ve done it. I’ve cast on for my version of Forest Darkness and I’ve accepted the new position. The scale of both are challenging.

17.jpgDeep into the Forest, as I’m calling my sweater, is knit at 8.5 st/inch and something on the order of 13-14 rows per inch. It’s like knitting 3 sweaters from worsted weight – instead of something like 36 st/square inch, you have 120 stitches per square inch. One row took me over 15 minutes, but I’m hoping it is because it is in ribbing and it was the cast on row, which is always a lot slower to knit, especially at tiny gauge. And the yoke increases to over twice in diameter before you start straight knitting. I’m figuring somewhere around 4 hours per inch and the sweater is about 24 inches, so maybe 100 hours to knit this sweater? But add in for a bit more sleeve length and the slower pace on the yoke – I am going to guess 130. It will be either fun or crazy-making to keep track.

(What knucklehead chose black as the background color? I will need good light on this baby.)

The scale of my new group is large rather than tiny, and definitely daunting. (Not to mention, I am leaving some very, very good friends behind in the old group and actually moving to a different building (Jeanne, we’ll get together for lunch, really!).)

I’m going from indirect management of lots of small projects to managing a group of somewhere around 15 – 18 people who each have very big projects. I’ve lucked out in that performance appraisals are just being done for the group, so I have a year before I have to face that challenge. Still, it is a giant change for me. I am happy about it, as I see my real value for the company to be my management skills, but I am a bit terrified.

At least Deep into the Forest doesn’t terrify me. (Perhaps I shouldn’t speak too soon.)



Big humor and little humor.

Hi, Jan,

16.jpgWilson and I went to a book reading by Kevin Kling at our local library Monday night. What a funny guy. He has been through a lot in life – born with a left arm that had congenital deformities to the point he couldn’t do a lot with it, then several years ago was in a serious motorcycle accident that left him without the use of his right arm. He has a lot to say about living life, and he uses humor as the way in.

He was reading from his relatively recent book, The Dog Says How. I recommend it for a good laugh and some serious consideration of what it means to be alive. As an example, this storyteller extraordinaire shares with us how when he was in an elevator at the hospital after the horrible motorcycle accident in which he nearly died, an 8-year-old boy looks up at him and tells him how he got 6 stitches in his head. Kevin responds by pointing out how his own stitches went across his head, around his shoulder, and down his abdomen. The kid replies, “Yeah, but mine really hurt.”

Here is the kicker – instead of saying how the kid didn’t get it, Kevin tells the audience “never underestimate another man’s pain”. And yes, we laughed pretty hard, but there is a wisdom there for all of us.

So, if Kevin is your big humor, here is your little humor. It is a joke I made up to day. I feel like about a 6 year old but it just cracks me up, so you have to endure it.

Q. What did the chicken noodle soup say to the lentil soup?

A. You’re a dal!

Sorry (not really!),



Love, Ellen

Curls, Projects and a Mountain Hike

Dear Ellen,

It was good talking to you today. I do think we need to plan our mini-break in celebration of the upcoming milestone. Something involving fiber would be fun, but any time we get to hang out will be fine with me. Let’s see what we can come up with.

Curly Haired JanRemember my asking about the curliness of your hair when you were in DC for Marie’s wedding? Well, I got mine trimmed the other day and the stylist asked if she could have some fun and “encourage my curls” during the blow-dry. I gave her the go ahead and here’s the result. I think it’s pretty cute…and can do it myself, but my usual habit is to pull it back or put it up when I get out of the shower — this will be fun for special events though.

mystery-knit.JPGWhat do you think this is?

Hint: it’s not a Baby Surprise.

See if you can work it out and I’ll tell you at the end of the post.

I finished the socks I worked on during part of our trip west. I’m quite pleased with them now, but they really drove me crazy during the process of completing them. I finished the first one and bound it off and then decided It was too short. troublesome-socks-w-flash.JPGHere’s the saga — Okay, the second sock is already on the needles, so I’ll knit it to a better length and then go back and add on to the other. The ends aren’t yet woven in, so at least it won’t be too hard to frog back to the last row of knitting. Okay, this length is much better. Now to try it on…What? Crap, what was I thinking…this is a standard-bind off instead of an elastic bind-off. I’m going to have to redo it…but not tonight. Okay, it’s a new day, let’s get that bind-off fixed. Gee, in my hand this bind-off is fairly elastic, strange that it was so unforgiving on my foot. Well, it’s redone now, let’s try it on. What the @#%$??!! Double crap! I just redid the bind-off on the sock that was too short! Good grief, that sock will end up with three bind-offs by the time I’m done with it. Okay, settle down and pick up the LONG SOCK. This is definitely it…redo the bind-off and now it fits great. Now, pick up the SHORT SOCK and frog back to the meandering rib pattern and add four more repeats and then bind-off using an elastic bind-off. meandering-rib.JPGAm I out of yarn already? Oh brother! I picked up the wrong leftover yarn to add on to the sock…now I have to add yet another length of yarn. Back to business…and FINALLY finished. And they do fit perfectly, so in the end it’s worth it. I like the pattern stitch. I made it up on the fly when I decided I didn’t want just plain ribbing to the top…I’m sure it’s in some stitch dictionary, but I’m calling it meandering rib and think it looks like a nuance of mock-cable.

taking-form.JPGDoggy Romping Figure it out yet? Here’s another picture in process to help you guess. At this point it should be fairly easy. And here’s a shot of how the dogs have stolen it for a bit of a romp. (I confess, this shot is only included because I love the look of Ruby galloping.)

We had a really great morning yesterday. We got up pretty early for a Saturday and headed over to Barr Mountain. The dogs came along for what turned out to be a max-christens-the-trail-head.JPGmountain-view.JPGdoggies-and-jan.JPGthree hour tour hike. (Did you hear the theme song to Gilligan’s Island as you read that?) It was GORGEOUS. We started out with Max christening the trail head — his own form of adoption. (BTW, did you know that dale-and-doggies.JPGhummingbird.JPGthis area has the highest population of Wiccans in the country?) Every time you turned a switchback you saw another view of the foothills leading up to the Rocky Mountains. And the trail was bordered by some very impressive boulders. We didn’t see a lot of wildlife (after all there we’re many hikers), but I did spot this hummingbird. It looking-around.JPGqueen-of-the-world.JPGkindly lit on this tree to let me take its picture. After we had been on the trail for a while (passing and being passed by many other hikers, some of whom had their dogs off leash), we decided to try Ruby off leash. We thought she’d be unlikely to charge off without us as she was sticking pretty close. She did great…seemed to love the extra bit of liberation and did stay with us very nicely. She even followed instruction when we would call her to the side to let a runner go by. (Comment on the runners — they’re crashed.JPGinsane. The trail was very rocky in places, lots of “ankle grabbers,” and in places quite steep. The one guy on the mountain bike…forget it!) Based on her fine performance we let Max off lead as well and he did nearly as well as Ruby. We stopped for water and to climb some rocks…the dogs thought they were king and queen of the world! When we got back to the car we were all pretty well bushed, but Dale and I didn’t have the option of just crashing like someone else.

Doggy Boneruby-and-dog-bone.JPGYes, you’re right! It is a doggy bone! It has the sound device from one of the dog’s favorite toys inside…they loved that toy so much that when it totally fell apart I decided I’d have to knit a replacement of some sort. I used nylon cording to try to make it as non-destructible as possible and I modified a commercial pattern for a felted dog bone. Ruby is quite appreciative, but she has a bit of trouble picking it up. Max carries around quite nicely, but wouldn’t let me get a picture of him doing so.

Enough for now back to working on my first Baby Surprise.

Love, Jan


Hi, Jan,

Thanks to our lovely summer hours policy at work, I am home blogging on a Friday afternoon. It is a crazy weather day here – thunderstorms blowing in and out in minutes (40 and 50 mph winds) and bursts of sunshine followed by spurts of rain. A great day to be inside playing with yarn (should also be good day to clean house, but that just isn’t holding my interest).

71.jpgI submit, for your consideration, a Bohus hair clip. The pattern is an original Bohus chart, Blue Shimmer, or would be, anyway, if I hadn’t lost focus somewhere in the middle and left a couple of rows out. I knit it up to act as another swatch for my soon to be started Forest Darkness sweater and to use up leftover yarn from my wristlet kit.

15.jpgI also braved doing a full wet block on this, just so I’d know how the yarn reacts. It did well. Here is a shot of one of the wristlets, worn several times but not blocked, next to the new piece (see the missing rows? This is how I noticed the omission.). I like very much how the minor puckering smoothed right out and how the haze of the angora didn’t suffer at all from being wet.

41.jpg51.jpg61.jpgTo finish the clip, I just ran a running stitch around the edge of the swatch and gathered it up purse string style around the clip. A few stitches back and forth across the opening to stabilize things and that was it. I am quite happy with the use of the extra yarn and the recycling of a clip that had gotten too worn looking to wear to work.

I get further clipped tonight – a much needed trim of split ends. But you can be sure I’ll have them leave enough behind so I can use my new Bohus accessory.



Meme oh my!

Dear Ellen,

Like Christina, I am not tagging anyone as I do believe I’m out of bloggers.  Herewith, my answers:

1. What I was doing 10 years ago:

Doing research and analysis as an associate fellow on the Chief of Naval Operations’ Strategic Studies Group.

2. What 5 things are on on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):

Go see the quarters that have been assigned to us (the current resident invited us).   Take the doggies on their morning walk (see previous post).  Take my first block of training as an event assessor (watch officer in the command center).  Finish one of my wavy ribs socks (I did, but was clearly in a brain fog when I did a standard bind-off on these toe up socks….now taking the bind-off out and redoing it is on tomorrow’s to-do list.)  Give Dale many kisses.  (I could have bored you with many other work things…the kisses were more fun.)

3. Snacks I enjoy:

sushi, sugar-free Popsicles, pretzels and hummus, almonds, tangelos, Ritter Sport; peanut buster parfait

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Support cancer research, lobby for better immigration laws (supporting opportunities for citizenship), establish an education foundation dedicated to making good and creative education available to all, build a gathering place — a home in which to live with room for friends and family to come and stay and play and create and be with nature.

5. Places I have lived:

Medina, OH; Gainesville, FL; Fayetteville, NC; Spring Lake, NC; Cheltenham, MD; Alexandria, VA; Aiea, HI; Billerica, MA; Kingston, MA; West Point, NY; Burke, VA; Norfolk, VA; Middletown, RI; Jacksonville, FL; Arco Felice, Italy; Vienna, VA; Norfolk, VA; Portsmouth, VA; Colorado Springs, CO

Love, Jan

Why Dogs Love Morning Walks

Dear Ellen,


Every morning I have taken the dogs for a morning walk/jog. We walk most of it, but I’m allowed to VERY SLOWLY start to reintroduce running back into my white-throats.JPGblue-5-petals.JPGdazzle-daisy.JPGlifestyle. (I have strict instructions to build slowly from a minute at a time or risk re-rupture of the Achilles. I do NOT intend to do that!) The dogs appreciate that they get the exercise and plenty of time to sniff moonflowers.JPGblue-trillium.JPGaround the surrounds and discover many new things. (They also take the opportunity to pee on many new things.) What have they discovered, you ask? Well, they’ve discovered…


…Many lovely wildflowers…

handsome-runner.JPG A funny handsome running man…

pike-s-peak.JPG Pike’s Peak… (which I can also see through the window while sitting at my desk at work!!!!!!!!!)

bunny.JPG A bunny…

birdie.JPG …a birdie

hot-air-balloon-unicorn.JPG And a hot air balloon…

(no, this does not refer to the aforementioned running man!)

We do love our morning walks!

Love, Jan

More Beans, More Blooms, More Bohus (and tag, you’re it)

Hi, Jan,

What a prolific blogging period we’re having! It must be the long days.

14.jpgA few more beans are up in the garden. So far, the golden brown beans are much more enthusiastic, but today I spied a few seedlings in the rows that were planted with the chestnut red seeds. The plants shown are from the golden seeds, in fact, the same as yesterday just a little further along.

21.jpgThe blooms for the day are Geranium sylvaticum ‘Silva’. They resemble the cranesbill geranium that grows in the forest, hence Silva is an appropriate varietal. They’ve done nicely in my garden, which means they do well left to their own devices.

31.jpgFinally – another taste of Bohus knitting. I have just about decided to knit my Forest Darkness kit as a cardigan as I’ll get a lot more use out of it if I can slip it on and off at work. I wanted to see how it would be to knit the patterns back and forth instead of in the round, so I’m using my leftover yarn from the Blue Shimmer Wristlets to knit a little swatch with which I will cover an old hair clip after I check my gauge. While it was a little awkward at times knitting back and forth, I wasn’t highly annoyed, so I think I’ll move forward as planned. And I found the knitting every bit as addictive as the first time. Watch for Forest Darkness to appear on the needles soon!

Annelis tagged me a couple of days ago, so here are my answers to the current meme:

The Rules – Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

OK, let’s see:

1. What I was doing 10 years ago:

Just finishing my first year working full time as a product developer. I believe I spent much of that summer going in to work on weekends to count mold colonies on challenge studies. Good times.

2. What 5 things are on on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):

Try to get back on Minnesota time after several days in Vancouver (some yawns, but pretty much OK), attack the 120+ emails that came in while I was traveling (cleared over 100!), initiate intellectual property discussions with a university professor (got a start, anyway), pick up my new bite wing (seems I’ve been grinding my teeth off at night), study Spanish (next on my list after I finish here).

3. Snacks I enjoy:

roasted pumpkin seeds, gin and tonic (what, that isn’t a snack?), sourdough pretzels, hummus and pita chips

4. Things I would do if I was a billionaire:

Fund environmental research, buy land for conservation purposes, help kids get college educations, design and build the perfect tiny house on the perfect bit of land
5. Places I have lived:

Medina, OH; Columbus, OH; Wickliffe, OH; Willowick, OH; Lakewood, OH; Blacksburg, VA; Harrisonburg, VA; Columbus, OH; Minnetonka, MN

I tag:







On the Road Again

what-a-peach.JPGDear Ellen,

That week with John and Betsy flew by pretty darned fast. And before you knew it, we were seeing giant fruit as we traveled down I-85 towards Athens, Georgia. We stayed there for a few days with Allen and we got to see him graduate from his Supply Officer Basic Course. He’ll be in Athens till July for a few shorter courses, all getting him ready to report to the fast attack submarine USS PROVIDENCE diploma-received.JPGnavy-family.JPGfamily-tradition.JPGout of Groton, Connecticut. Sadly, he and Tina have broken up, so being close to NYC will no longer hold as much of a draw, but he is quite excited about getting to his first real assignment nonetheless.

arch-st-louis.JPGThe morning after graduation we got back on the road…and drove for a long time. We did get to see some fun things along the way…the Arch in St. Louis was impressive. We stopped just on the west side of St. Louis the first day. I was very grateful that we had planned the trip so that we would drive the longest distance the first day with each subsequent day about 100 miles less than the day before. It made it much easier to get up in the morning and face the car again. tornado-refugees.JPGknitting-up-a-storm-ha-ha.JPGWe stopped in Hays, Kansas on the second night of the drive and we had the added fun of spending most of the evening in the hotel basement avoiding tornadoes that were touching down all around the area. I was glad to have my knitting with me. The dogs thought it was an adventure and a chance to play with the children who were staying in the hotel. No harm came to Hays and we were back on our way the next morning.

us-70-westbound.JPGLet me tell you, the drive through Kansas on I-70 is one long straight shot. There are, however, a few interesting sights to see along the way. You can, for instance, enjoy the many fields of eco-friendly windmills that stretch out over the plains. wind-power.JPGwindshield-cleaners.JPGAnd sometimes you see funny handsome men trying to scrape some of the several thousand dead bugs off of your windshield. I had enough time to take the two balls of SWTC A-Maizing ribbon yarn that I won in a guild raffle and knit 3/4 of a Baby Surprise jacket. Then I ran out of yarn. I decided it needed frogging anyway — I could see where I managed to mess up the mitreing when I was first starting…I had the count wrong. (No, I didn’t use the safety pins to mark the stitches as EZ had recommended.) As it turned out it didn’t really matter since I didn’t have enough yarn anyway. The EZ Baby Surprise will have to wait a little longer.

Incredible as it might be, Dale and I never got on each other’s nerves throughout the trip. (The NPR podcasts of “Car Talk” and “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” get some of the credit.) However, the dogs kept asking if we were there yet. great-view.JPGtraveling-pals.JPGRuby made it a point to find the best vantage point to watch the road markers. And Max was extremely happy when he finally saw the sign for entering Colorado Springs! As you can tell, Dale was too!! Fortunately, it was pretty easy to find our hotel and we got settled in pretty quickly. We’ve got a two bedroom suite that is small, but very nice — and on the ground floor, a definite bonus with dogs to walk! (My next post will show you some of the things we see while we are out on our daily early morning 1.5 mile jaunts.)

dee-at-needleworks.JPGneedleworks-group.JPGDale more than earned credit for investigating a knitting group for me to go to just two days after we arrived. Unfortunately, they meet on weekdays, so now that I’m back at work, I won’t have many opportunities to join them. They were a great source of information and I sure enjoyed spending a morning with them.  I’ll try to make it back again some time in the future.

I’ve been at work for a week now and I have to say it’s going pretty well. There will be more than enough for me to do to make sure I’m earning my paycheck, but I actually think I may be able to have some work-life balance…even possibly schedule some leave! I’m going to enjoy it. Enough for tonight…

Love, Jan

Final Days in Norfolk

Dear Ellen,

Now starts a series of posts to catch you up on our comings and goings. Of course, you know we’re already in Colorado Springs (the Springs, or COS for short), but as we haven’t talked and I’ve been pathetic about posting, you don’t have any of the fun details of how we got here.

After we finished packing out our household goods, John and BetsyJohn and Betsy K. were our very gracious host and hostess for our last week in Norfolk. I can’t believe I didn’t get pictures of our dogs together (they have a cute little shelty), but at least I got some shots of the human folks. We really enjoyed staying with them and doing stuff like going to the Greek Fest, just hanging out and relaxing. Dale and BetsyJan and JohnI did have to work, but I didn’t have to worry about preparing for the pack out since it was already done. And it’s one of the more stressful aspects of a move for me. bruttis-brunch-w-koivisto-and-nelson.JPGWe made it a point to get together with Kathy and Jim N. at our favorite brunch spot (Brutti’s on Court Street in Portsmouth!) — so nice to have such great friends.

I also intrigued Betsy with knitting to the point where she decided knitting-supplies.JPGfocused-knitter.JPGfirst-project.JPGshe wanted to give it a shot. (She had been thinking about it for a while.)  We went to Ewe Knit Kits and Yarn and picked out some great Merino Otto in the shadow colorway and after I made her practice on some cheap acrylic economical basic yarn, we got her started on her first project. It’s a sock-and-a-half.JPGribbed scarf…I either blogged about this before or am experiencing deja vu. (As disoriented as I’ve been lately, I wouldn’t be surprised!) I think she’s doing quite well…a real natural knitter — and look at that concentration!  I’m hoping for an update soon. I finished Mark G’s sock and a half, but didn’t get it mailed before we left. (Okay, so I haven’t gotten around to mailing it yet!)

crowded-but-comfy.JPGWe had a wonderful time with good friends and hated to say goodbye, but the time did come and we got on the road. It was something of a tight squeeze, what with two large humans, a goodly quantity of luggage and our two furry friends. They were great travelers and didn’t complain once about the cramped quarters. I think they knew they were on the way to see their boy down at the Navy Supply School in Athens, Georgia.

Tomorrow…Allen graduates from Supply School…and what you see on the way to COS.

Love, Jan