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Archive for July, 2008


Peak Moments

Dear Jan,

I spent the weekend at Lake Ida, guest of Peggy, along with several others of our knitting group. It was tremendous fun.

img_3361.JPG26.jpg65.jpg91.jpg74.jpgWe knit everywhere - on the dock, on the deck, in the kayak, and even in the water.

142.jpgThe price of admission was pretty small - a small square for an afghan for Peggy.

Despite the evidence, we did a few things besides knit. We kayaked (that is Annie M’s, son, Max, showing his form) and swam, played with two excellent dogs (Emma and Ellie), 122.jpg82.jpgand visited 46.jpg a most excellent local yarn shop, Gallery of Dreams. Here are Carrie and Judy, daughter and mom, who were delightfully patient with us as we picked out our purchases. We were a bit like a swarm of locusts hitting them. Carrie is starting a nice little blog detailing her knitting adventures.18.jpg

Prize for best project went to Peggy, who finished the knitting on this and then felted it into this. 132.jpgShe also got a big start on a mitered bag a la Modesitt. Here I am with her as she shows off her work and I show off Annie’s work on my head!112.jpg

36.jpgLisa asked me what my peak moment was as we were driving home. I struggled to figure it out because there were so many. Then it hit me - it was hearing the loons. It seems absolutely decadent to have all this knitting and loons, too.

img_3387.JPGSomehow I don’t think Annie had such a hard time figuring out her peak moment.

I hope you are having plenty of peaks this week.

Love,

Ellen

17,000+ words about our vacation

Hey, Jan,

25.jpgThis is kind of picture heavy, sorry about that, but I just had too tough a time choosing from the over 400 pictures amassed by the many photographers on our recent WV vacation to make it shorter. Call us the papparazi of the natural world.

It was a great vacation. West Virginia is a gorgeous state. 73.jpg131.jpg16.jpg45.jpg81.jpgIt has stunning flora and fauna, and interesting microclimates (shown are the Dolly Sods, an alpine plateau, and the Blackwater Falls).121.jpg

It also has a nice yarn shop in Elkins. Yarn and Company was bustling with customers, despite being out of town on a windy road. Of course, the real reason we go is to reconnect with family. Here is a shot of the owner, Sandra, with one of her sheepy friends. You should be receiving a little surprise from there soon.

Of course, the most important reason for vacation is family. You can spot Paula in the Dolly Sods picture, and you saw Neil in the last post. Here are the 3 siblings together and one of Wilson and Helen.55.jpg35.jpgThe siblings shot was taken on a mountain biking expedition (my first - it was fairly tame, hence fun. My worst injury was while walking the bike through the woods - those pedals are really sharp if you run them into your calf.) 64.jpgHere are Jon and Merry on the same trip.

9.jpg10.jpg111.jpgWe took an old train for a ride through the mountains. It was fun to pretend we were gamblers in the parlor car. And fun to horse around on the tracks.

141.jpg151.jpg161.jpg17.jpgWe ended up in Virginia. My buddy from when Wilson was in grad school, Ellen, lives there with her husband.  Her kids all happened to be in town the night we were there. Carolyn, who is right between Karen and Jenny in age, showed how she could transform string into useful objects and herself into a sophisticated young woman. It was fun to see the brotherly banter of Roland (a bit older than K) and Russell (a couple years younger). And Ellen and I agreed that none of us looked any older than 20 years ago.

No knitting to show, but the next post is overloaded with it.  Brace yourself!

Love,

Ellen

6 Random Things

Przewalski Horse at Prague ZooDear Ellen,

Katie has tagged me, so here we go — 6 random things about me (deliberately not addressing Dale and the kids…this is about me).

1) Like all good Sailors, I have tattoos. (Three…numbers 4 and 5 already planned. Maybe next time we’re together?)

2) I count bunnies on my morning walks with the dogs. (Record high of 31!)

3) I greatly dislike coconut. (I can eat it to be polite, so I won’t say I hate it — but talk about a way to ruin a chocolate cake!)

4) When I was a small child, I was sure I could levitate if I concentrated hard enough. (I still have dreams of this…in my sleep, that is. It’s not actually an aspiration!)

5) I am very impatient — including with myself. (I’m trying to work on it.)

6) I can’t knead dough without excessive quantities of it sticking to my hands. (And I turn gold-tone jewelry green at an amazing speed.)

The photo isn’t part of the random things…but Katie threw in a random shot, so I did too.

teosinte.jpgteosinte-sock-detail.jpgThese photos are of my one completed Teosinte sock. I have another in the works and am leaving on a trip to DC, so expect that it will be finished by the weekend. I still have the “gentleman’s socks” in the works, so I have a back-up project. When I return I intend to finally block and stitch my lace tunic and then force myself to finish the sweater that’s been in the works for a year and a half. I don’t think it will really fit now, but I’ve seem to have stabilized and maybe even lost a little weight. I’m hoping by fall it will work — certainly by winter!

river-walk-ducklings-2.jpgriver-walk-1.jpgriver-walk-mama-and-babies.jpgjan-at-alamo.jpgAnd here are a few photos of one part of my last set of travels. I went to Tyndall AFB to visit with our component there, Air Forces North — but no pictures there…probably because it looks so much like the rest of Florida and having spent 1/10 of my life there, did not find it so remarkable. These are from the second leg of the trip — to Army North in San Antonio. We (I traveled with our Communications Operations Planner) finished up around 3 PM and that gave us time to visit the Alamo and hang out on the River Walk. The Alamo is a lovely Spanish-styled rustic church…and not really much more. The River Walk is fun with many restaurants, shops and tour boat opportunities. Nonetheless, I liked the ducks the best.

Love, Jan

Quick Bits

Dear Ellen,

I decided to find a means to do a brief post while on this trip — otherwise I will keep waiting for enough time for a proper post and will never get one up at all. So here are a few photos and some minimalist comments to accompany.

squirrel-watching.JPGMax hates squirrels. They have no place in our yard. Here he is diligently on guard for the squirrel who has had the audacity to make a nest in the tree growing next to our fence. Technically the nest is outside of our yard, but as the branches do emanate from our tree, he feels it is a violation of policy. When the squirrel comes out of the nest, Max barks ferociously and chases the squirrel along the fence till he/she (I have no idea which) leaves the area. max-has-a-boo-boo.JPGIf he/she does not leave the area, and instead chooses to chatter at Max from the fence corner post, Max will charge said corner post and nearly scale the upright to try to make it clear to the squirrel that this is totally unacceptable. As a result, Max will sprain his ankle and be required to wear ruby-sleeps-curled.JPGfashionable leg wear in the form of sock and bandage to help provide support and compression. He also got to have ice compresses…and seemed to enjoy all the babying. This was just over a week ago and he is trotting around just fine now. Ruby pretty much slept through it all.

table-rock-group.JPGI have continued to enjoy knitting with the “Spinners with Altitude” group. Here’s a shot from the meeting two weeks ago at “Table Rock Llamas.” The lovely space in which we are seen knitting (okay, I’m not seen — I’m taking the picture) is the back room where there is some extra storage and where classes are held for dyeing, knitting and especially spinning. The problem with this group is that they are trying to tempt me into yet another craft by offering the claim that spinning is really just a “companion craft” to knitting — not to be considered a detriment to knitting time. flash.JPGI don’t know, but I must admit it truly is starting to tempt me. Flash (Anne’s new baby) is not tempted by spinning, but he does enjoy a comfortable sweater (Anne’s Enchanted Forest sweater). I have a feeling that Flash could be spun into a delightfully soft yarn and all that would be left would be a cute little bark.

office-in-need-of-organization.JPGWe are all moved in now — my office is making progress. This photo is about a week old and there has been much improvement to include the stashing of the stash in “cube” shelving that I put into the closet. When I finish I will post photos of the completed effort to prove that my office/craft room was very neat and organized at least one moment in time.

The day before our birthday I had a surprise party and cake at work, the day of our birthday I was serenaded with “Happy Birthday” by both NPR (coincidentally they sang “Happy Birthday” to their listeners to embellish a story about wacky copyright issues) and the Colorado Navy community at the annual picnic. There were two huge cakes at the picnic, one chocolate and one vanilla, and I was told I was expected to have a piece of each. (NPR did not provide birthday cake.) That evening Dale had a few friends over and we had red velvet cake that he baked himself. (He is truly mastering high altitude directions!) So, that made it a 4 cake birthday…guess there’s some good in turning 50 after all! I hope you had a wonderful day too!

Love, Jan

Fast Friday Update

Hi, Jan,

This vacation has gone way, way too fast. There hasn’t been much time for blogging, but there has been lots of time outdoors and knitting when we come home. Here is a micro taste - I’ll post more when I’m back in Minnesota.

24.jpgHere is a picture of one of my favorite people in the world. Neil (Wilson’s dad) is one of those people who is truly grateful for what they have in life. He and Helen have definitely influenced me just by being such wonderful role models to be closer to the person that my potential holds. This is the reason for these vacations, much more than the scenery or the activities.

34.jpgBut sometimes the scenery takes your breath away. The full moon last night was intensely orange as it rose, and as it peeked through the mountain mist a bit later, it was awesome.

15.jpgDITF is equally enchanting, at least to me, and I haven’t had to frog anything for over two days. That probably curses me for this evening, but it is still a joy to knit.

I hope you’re having fun, too.

Love,

Ellen

I’m trying to work, really I am.

Hi, Jan,

I’m sitting here on a conference call, waiting for the moderator. Perfect time to multi-task and do some knitting updates.

44.jpgNot a lot to report, actually. We are enjoying being with family and a stormy day yesterday kept us in, allowing me ample time to knit on DITF, frog on DITF, and knit again on DITF. The shot shown is after 10 hours of productive knitting. This doesn’t count the 1.5 hours of frogging and resetting the pattern.

This sweater is teaching me a lot about knitter’s optimism. That last major frogging episode came after I heard a tiny voice in the back of my head telling me the color wasn’t quite right, and yet I ignored it for several rows. Now I hit a spot where you set up a new motif repeat and the first row is 2 green, 1 black, 3 green, 1 black, repeat. You’d think I’d double check that I knit that correctly, wouldn’t you? Nope, even though I know the eye is very clever at filling in patterns it thinks you want to see, and even though I actually thought about the fact that I know that, I blithely trusted my very quick review of the row. Again, two rows later, major frogging needed. I guess the only consolation is that knitting this sweater is like petting kittens the whole time.

54.jpg63.jpgI also started a simple scarf and finally got going on Rivendell. I’m hoping the scarf will block out smoothly, but as it is a quick exploration of this lovely Malabrigo yarn, I’m not too worked up about it. It is my “knit with family discussion going on” project. Rivendell is challenging enough that it is my “knit while watching movie with family” project. For the most part, the pattern is intuitive and doesn’t take THAT much attention, plus frogging a merino/tencel blend is much easier than a merino/angora blend, aka Bohus yarn.

14.jpg23.jpg33.jpg On a walk at the Germantown, MD hotel, we saw these two mockingbirds in a very active interaction. Wilson thought it was a competitive thing, but I pointed out all the butt-wagging and gift-giving, hence my confidence that this is prelude to bird nuptials. Not so different from humans, eh? (Not intended to be directed at K&B - this is a general statement!)

I hope to have some WV mountain pictures for you next time.

Cheers!

Ellen

Three lovelies.

Dear Jan,

22.jpg43.jpg32.jpgI saw some of my dearest people in the world today. And I got introduced to someone who joined that list. Unbelievable, but Neha is even more adorable in person. And Lauren and Claire get lovelier every year. It was great to see their parents, too (Venkat and Vani, Rachel and Jean), but somehow the camera lens kept veering off to take pictures of young ladies.

13.jpgI did manage to get an earlier shot of Wilson tooling down the Beltway in the Mitsubishi Spyder that we were given by Avis in place of the subcompact we’d reserved. It seems gas prices are creating a shortage of fuel efficient cars at rental agencies. So we are declaring this week to be our joint mid-life crisis. A nice cheap way of getting it out of our system.

53.jpgAnd a 2+ hour flight allowed a new color to be introduced into DITF!

Have a great weekend,

Ellen

Eryka tossed down the gauntlet.

Hi, Jan,

I really should be going to bed. I have to finish packing my office tomorrow and start the intro meetings with my new team, plus we have a team meeting for which I really honestly planned to have a sharp discussion outlined ahead of time to impress everyone with their new manager’s critical thinking skills, but as I got out of the car Eryka said, “I bet you’re going to go home and update your blog, aren’t you?”

62.jpgWhat else was I supposed to do? Especially after we had such a raucous and fun night knitting. Beer and wine were drunk, chocolate cake was eaten, and indeed, much laughter was laughed. It was one of our biggest turn outs ever.

12.jpg42.jpg52.jpgI didn’t try to get pictures of all of the projects - it’s hard in a public place like that - but some of the highlights included Karen’s soon-to-be-felted colorwork bag, Lisa’s very beginning of a shawl (her first knitting in a long time!), and a dynamite tank in a gorgeous green knit up by Annie.

Instead of listing everyone else’s projects (and thereby sidestepping the need to point out that I came home with no progress on my Rivendell socks (for such a simple pattern, I sure managed to make a series of frogworthy mistakes)), I am going to just list everyone and their vocations - to list avocations would take too many kilobytes.

Annie A - nutritionist

Lisa G - pastry chef

Chris - food scientist

Kathy - lawyer and beegirl

Kim - marketer

Leslie - program executive for corporate mentoring group

Kari - pastry chef (yes, we’re that lucky to have two in the group!)

21.jpgPeggy - school counselor/social worker

Lisa P - food scientist (sure, we’re lucky to have two of these, too)

Eryka - PR specialist (and blogger - check out Spare Room Knits(TM!))

Karen - civil engineer

Annie M - knitting designer and knitting heretic

Ellen - biochemical engineer

And the folks who didn’t make it tonight are pretty awesome, too.

31.jpgThis is an incredible group of women - when are you going to come knit with us?!

Love,

Ellen

This post is rated “Aargh!”

Hi, Jan,

41.jpgI am so glad you and Dale are extra happy these days. It means that when the dread pirate Wilson comes to terrorize you, the contrast will be that much greater.

I learned a lot on this hat (We Call Them Pirates, designed by Adrian Bizilia), mostly about Baby Ull. It is a lovely soft yarn, and it will be soft on Wilson’s delicate skin. (Even dread pirates can have delicate skin.) 51.jpgIt is also very slick, which means that stitches next to carries in colorwork get rather sloppy and sometimes even nestle down into the prior row such that you can’t see them. I blame some of this on poor needle size and type choice. Having done some research after the fact, I note that many people are using US 0’s, 1’s and 2’s. I used 3’s on very slick metal circulars, on which I knit even looser than usual. I got gauge, but the fabric isn’t very sturdy.

After wet blocking, the fabric got even drapier, which is comfy but I fear won’t be as warm as I’d hoped. Also, you can now see quite a bit of the carried yarn through the fabric. Of course, I couldn’t wait for blocking to take pictures, so what you see here is before that issue arose. Still, Wilson is happy with the end result. And now I don’t have to worry about getting his cap finished before winter or amidst wedding shawl and Bohus knitting.

Karen and I cooked up a great shawl scheme. I’m hoping I can pull it off. She was not sure about the merits of a veil - expense, what do you do with it after, etc. - but definitely wanted a shawl. So why not make the shawl the veil? I’m going to mess around with designing a lightweight shawl that can be pinned, tied, or somehow attached to a comb to be used as a veil during the ceremony and transformed quickly into a shawl for the reception. She is currently thinking a slimmer profile dress, so I am seeing something with less pouf and more drape. The only downside here is it probably means going to cobweb weight yarn. She’d better hurry up and pick colors so I can get designing and knitting.

71.jpgIn case the earlier pirate picture was too scary, here is another look at DITF, at 8 hours and counting, to soothe your eyes.

61.jpgI need to get a new portable project going, now that Skullcap is done. I’m thinking the Rivendell socks from the Eclectic Sole, out of a lovely Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarn, Seduction, that Karen gifted me a while back.

Have a great week,

Love,

Ellen

In Our Own Backyard

Dear Ellen,

Today was a lovely day. I started out with our now routine dog walk (a record 18 bunnies were sighted this morning!), unpacked a few more boxes and then got to run out to the “Knitters with Altitude” knitting group. I had a good time with these ladies and they are not only people with whom it is easy to sit, knit and chat, but they meet Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Those timings make it far more likely I’ll be able to become a regular. The big topic of excitement is that Kirsten is on the verge of having all the necessary arrangements to open her own yarn shop. She finds out if the loan is approved on Monday. Also, Christi (or Christy or Kristie or Kristy — no, I didn’t find out) is shifting from employment to avocation. She’s clearing enough on her own hand-dyed yarn, roving and spinning tools sock-progress.jpg(Crazy Monkey Creations) on Etsy, that she quit her job and isn’t intending to go back. Oh, and I also got a few inches done on my sock. No camera at the group, so you’ll have to suffice with the sock photo. I’ve decided on a simple spiral rib for the pattern.

dale-grills.jpga-boy-and-his-dog.jpgOn return I worked away in the bathroom/bedroom and I’m confident I’ll finish tonight in there. While I was beavering away at unpacking, Dale figured out how to get our granite kitchen table into the house and then decided it was time to give the new gas grill its christening. post-bbq-rolls.jpgyummy-bone.jpgHe did a most lovely job on steaks, corn, roasted onions and peppers and baked potatoes. Yummy and I didn’t cook. Neither of us could finish our steaks, but the pups had a very good time with the bones. dove.jpg Max had to do major rolls afterwards and then hung out with Dale to show his appreciation. Ruby found the remainder of his bone while he was cavorting. This little dove kept us company all through dinner.

We really enjoy our backyard and the entire locale. We don’t have a lot of flowers, columbine.jpgstar-aster.jpgbut we do have a few star asters and Rocky Mountain Columbine. I have a corner full of mint and a raised bed that is unplanted and just begging for a garden fork and some color. It will wait another weekend or two, but then I’ll plant whatever looks good at the garden center with thoughts about what should go in for next spring. On our morning walks we can see the mountains at the end of the path and there are pict0003.jpgpict0001.jpgplenty of local flowers and squirrels and bunnies to keep us entertained.

My postings of late are rather filled with the routine of life and settling in to a new home. Maybe not the most exciting, but I am so much appreciating the moment and with that am compelled to share it.

Love, Jan