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

Archive for August, 2008


Things are growing…

Hi, Jan,

I’m finally making headway on Deep Into the Forest. In fact, in the last few days I finished the yoke. I’ll miss the color, but I won’t miss working with multiple threads. It is challenging to juggle three or more colors, especially on the backside and throwing in a scad of purl stitches throughout the pattern. Most of the rows are just two colors, but even those are a pain when mixing knits and purls.

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The results are worth the pain. Here is the entire yoke and one close up of the back, which is almost as enchanting as the front. That is true about so many things. This may explain why “The Making of…” documentaries are of interest to so many.

32.jpg42.jpgAlso growing, finally are some beans on my pile o’ bean vines. The 3 pods that showed up in July are maturing into a gorgeous color, and now they have some baby sisters.

53.jpgStill, when you are seeing ripening prairie grass on hikes, you wonder if these babes are going to make it.

Wilson and I are getting ready to head out to the state fair, where we will undoubtedly grow a bit, too.

Love,
Ellen

My own mini-triathlon, completed.

Hi, Jan,

81.jpg62.jpgJust a quick note to officially proclaim my finish in the Ravelympics Hat Dash. Here is the last helmet liner, this one for the gold. I changed it up a bit, adding a gusset to the side of the face opening instead of just knitting a short tube of ribbing from the slit. In fact, I changed the opening from a slit to a more rectangular opening by knitting a neckstand. I’ll be writing this pattern up – I liked knitting it much more than the original pattern, and I think the fit is better, too.

15.jpg52.jpgBetter than the Ravelympics gold medal – my mother’s day/birthday gift from Karen, which arrived this week. She thoughtfully extended the birthday season for me, but I am afraid it is over now.  But it ended with a bang – Kanji bamboo/silk from ArtFibers and some very adorable coffee-themed stitch markers.

Have a great weekend,

Love,

Ellen

Of piggies and pidges and pirates…

Hi, Jan,

14.jpg22.jpgToday was the opening of the MN State Fair. Kathy and I volunteered at the MN Knitting Guild booth along with Ruth. Karen was there with her adorable Koka Monkeys. She has set up a slick how-to demo on a digital photo frame and many children, women, and even men sat there mesmerized as they watched these very cute monkeys come to life.

31.jpgThere was gorgeous stuff on display outside of the booth. Susan Rainey’s Lyra was a Sweepstakes winner. I am seriously considering knitting a round version, with only one strand of yarn and maybe on a larger needle so it will be lacier, for Karen’s veil.
Eryka was a winner, too, with her first entry ever! Her pidge is made out of a totally lux yarn and is tres chic buttoned around her neck.61.jpg

And guess who else won? Yep, two of my three entries will be coming home with ribbons.

51.jpg41.jpgI honestly didn’t expect to win. Still, I certainly felt a thrill when I saw the ribbon on the vest and when I saw the cap had won, I laughed out loud. Very happy. And then, over time, tiny bits of discomfort rose in my chest. Very tiny, but I have to recognize them.

As I mentioned before, the vest was a bit worn. I couldn’t resist not using it last winter. Though I did try to comb it well, I thought the slight pilling would hinder the judges from ranking it with the winners. Still, I know I did a great job on both the knitting and the finishing, and I feel quite proud of that ribbon. The cap, on the other hand, while edgy and fun and not total crap, just isn’t an example of outstanding colorwork.

Honestly, this is not false modesty. I really like this cap. I think Wilson will look so adorable in it this winter. But it really isn’t EXCELLENT. The gauge was too loose for a superwash yarn, so the stitches have slipped a bit and the pattern isn’t as crisp as it should be.

As I commented on The Rainey Sisters, I don’t want my ribbons at the state fair to be for participation. I want to feel euphoric when I get a ribbon, especially one as high as 2nd place, because I know it marks my work as superior. If nice but not stellar work gets awards, will I start to lower my standards? Will others? I hope there are more excellent entries in coming years, knitters whose work it is truly an honor to measure one’s progress against.

Of course, maybe I should talk more about this in a few years, after I see how hard it is to get a blue ribbon! I will be competing with Susan, after all!

71.jpg8.jpgEnough philosophy. This being a state fair, there had to be things on sticks. Of most novelty to me this year – quilts on a stick. This one was especially nice, with an ode to corn on one side and an homage to mini-donuts on the other.

121.jpgAnd how’s this for real Minnesotiana?

111.jpgNo state fair visit is complete without some animals. It doesn’t get much cuter than hours-old piglets. Say it together now, “Aaaaaaaah!”

Love,

Ellen

I Love My Lace Tunic!

Dear Ellen,

dscn0038.JPGdscn0033.JPGdscn0034.JPGYay!*  I really think I got it just about right this time .  Do you see how I’m smiling?  (The last shot included as Dale thinks I look very much like some of your pictures in it.  I told him we were identical twins after all!)  I didn’t account for having such a high wasitline.   if I had done so, I would love it more — but as it is, I’m darned pleased with how this turned out and I am going to be wearing it a lot.  It dresses up a plain t-shirt nicely so it will give me a good option when I’m out and about or at a casual party.   And, it’s another WIP completed.

I do have an issue with the next target…turns out I knit two different sizes of sleeves.  I have a plan though.  Since it’s mohair, I’m going to trim down one sleeve (after having mattress stitched into place) and then whip stitch the seam to secure the it from fraying.  I’ll also whip stitch the opposite seam so the bulk will be the same in each shoulder.  I’m telling myself this added bulk will actually add some definition to the shoulder, which should look nice on this slightly fitted cardigan.  We’ll see.  Worst case is I’ll take the sleeve back out, frog down to where the sleeve cap started and reknit.

Love, Jan

*I am bothered when people spell “yay” as “yeah.”  One rhymes with hay, the other is a casual version of yes.

The Finish Line is Way Too Close…

…Or rather the closing ceremonies are way too close.

Hi, Ellen!

teosinte-finito-8-17-2007-11-01-7.JPGlace-tunic-blocking-8-17-2008-1-17-00-pm.JPGI have finished the Teosinte Socks, so that is one WIP for WIPs Wrestling, and I have the lace tunic laid out in blocking wires to dry, so I am making some progress, but I am definitely at risk for not completing all my events.  I was rather aggressive in sign ups to begin with, but events have also conspired against me. Work has faced a few big issues that pulled me off task much of the day yesterday and that really hurt…Dale had agreed to a Saturday-Sunday stay home knit-athon/class-prep-athon.  He got his class prep well underway, but I’m way behind where I wanted to be this morning.  I’m also struggling with a pinched nerve/sciatica that makes sitting in one place very uncomfortable (actually downright painful!) and my pace is very much slowed.  I’ll do what I can, but it’s looking somewhat grim.  Maybe I can come from behind like Jason Lezak.

dscn0022.JPGanniversary-roses.jpgWhile putting up these shots I came across two other non-knitting shots to share.  The first is the view I can see while sitting at my desk.  I love it — in real life it’s easier to see into the distance, but at least you get the general idea of having Pikes Peak right in my view.  The second is a close-up of the roses — 29 long stems — Dale continues to give me an equal number of roses as the years we’ve been married on our anniversary.  He does tease about how expensive it is becoming to stay married to me.  I point out that a divorce is still far more expensive.  (I gave him a laser printer.  He was just as happy with that as I was with the roses.)

Back to knitting!

Love, Jan

Silver!

Hi, Jan,

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I have foolishly stayed up late to watch the women’s all-arounds and to finish my second helmet liner. Details on my Ravelry account, but here is proof – a Photobooth shot with the end of the all-around finish in the background.

And with that, good night!

E

P.S. Edited to add my medal, now that it has been awarded.

Weekend Warriors

Hi Ellen!

death-by-lace-bookmark.jpgpeety-s-toast.jpgNot only did Ravelympics start this weekend, but Yarn Smackdown Summer 2008 started as well. I only entered two events given that I rather over optimistic for the medal chase. And the two events I entered were small and therefore very achievable — the Food Fight and the Lace Bookmark event. For the Food Fight, you only had to knit a 4″ by 4″ piece of toast — any pattern, didn’t have to actually look like toast, but did have to meet the measure within 1/4 of an inch. The lace bookmark gave two patterns, I picked the one that looked a bit more interesting, and therefore, a bit more challenging. I never imagined I’d be frogging several times on such a small piece! I did complete both projects and get them into the mail before the weapons of my destruction arrived here, so at least I know I get a few kills. I have been notified by one of my assassins that I will soon be toast.

feather-tree-view.JPGjan-at-summit.JPGOn Friday I couldn’t dedicate myself to knitting — our directorate was doing its annual hike of Pikes Peak. As the orthopoedist told me that I should in no way go hiking till he had the MRI results of my Achilles heel, I was a driver/greeter. We dropped the hikers off at the trail head, had delicious breakfast at a family diner and then drove to the summit. We were sure we’d beat the hikers, but when we got there two of them had already made it. One was a guy who is seriously training for this coming week’s competition involving running to the summit on Friday and then running to the Summit and back to the foot of the mountain on Saturday — one and a half marathons and about 24,000 feet of climb and drop. The other one was…Dale. He is now called “The Animal” by all the J6’ers.

view-from-the-top.JPGdale-and-jan-at-summit-sign.JPGpico.JPGIt was beautiful up there — some did have issues with oxygen deprivation, it didn’t bother me much at all. The views were gorgeous — I can’t tell you how much I regret not looking at the settings on my camera before I started snapping shots.  It was set for “economy” which is what I use so I directly upload pictures to the web and it means that these pics are all grainy.  I’ll do better next time!  And I’m looking forward to going up with you and Wilson. And this afternoon I got clearance to do it under my own power…the MRI shows thickening and changes associated with a partial rupture, but the fibers connecting the muscle tissue are completely intact! The physical therapist said that I can hike all I want as long as I avoid jumping, quick starts or high impact….basically got told to stick to old people’s sports. This direction was of the never again variety and it included running. I’m not happy about that, but am happy that I’m cleared for hiking. They’re going to do some additional therapy and I harbor some hope that maybe she’ll change her mind if it starts improving again.

dscn0017.JPGOh, and in keeping with old age sports, I’ve started golf lessons. I went to my first one yesterday and it was rather fun. Mary Mc came along with me and we pretty much laughed our way through. Fortunately Michael, our instructor, has a good sense of humor. He actually reminds me a bit of Kevin Smith. Afterwards we stopped back at the house to have a glass of wine and review our notes.

Today was a short day due to my appointment at PT, ergo the post. I’m going to sign off and grab the needles for 20 minutes before heading to the gym to swim.

Love, Jan

The bronze is in my hands.

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Just finished the first of my 3 helmet liners. Here is the photo finish, so to speak. Jan, I knit it to the pattern given, but I am thinking it might be improved by narrowing the face opening a bit (not much) and making it slightly more oval, rather than just being a gash. If you have any thoughts on that, let me know.

Now I am taking a break and actually doing a little housecleaning. I consider it cross-training. Most of you would consider it way past due.

2741108703_e09ec0982e_o.jpgLove,

Ellen

P.S. Updated to include the medals given out by Bobicus Maximus.

Opening Ceremonies!

Hello, Fellow Ravthlete!

Though you compete for Team Colorado and I for Team Minnesota, I am sure we can come together in the spirit of harmony depicted in the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.

12.jpgI knit my way through the ceremonies, in addition to a bit of knitting during the day (yes, I got up and cast on at 7:00 am as they started the ceremonies in Beijing), and I don’t think I am being cocky when I say I believe I will leave these Olympics with at least a bronze medal. I’m well over halfway done on my first of 3 helmet liners. If I get one done, I give myself a bronze, two is a silver, and three, a gold. They’ll all go to the helmet liner project our work knitting group does. We send them to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to replace the acrylic ones that are standard issue.

The ceremonies really touched me. It brought back memories of the people I have worked with in China – not the factory management, but the workers. Their way of approaching life is so far away from ours on the spectrum of value of the individual vs value of group. I think our society sometimes sees their approach as being dismissive of individual rights and freedoms, but the positive way to consider it is that it highly values group achievement and harmony. Bear in mind I am talking about the people, not the government, whose tactics I certainly don’t endorse.

Did it look to you as much as it did to me that George was bored by the whole thing (and hiding it embarrassingly poorly)? He might have enjoyed it more if he could have listened to that adorable Bob Kostas. One of the best parts of the Olympics is watching Bob.

How is your WIP Wrestling event going?

Love,

Ellen

UFO Mind Control

Dear Ellen,

It has been hot here…very hot for Colorado Springs. We’ve been in the mid-90s most of the week. So, I decided that at knitting group yesterday I would have to work on ufo-to-wip.jpgsomething that would evoke visions of crisp autumn air. I dragged out the project bag containing my efforts at Bernat’s Fitted Cardigan from brochure 530132, Get Smart. I call my version Autumn Glory because the colors of the yarn I’m using capture for me a golden sun-filled day with the leaves all in their colorful death throes glory. All I have left on it is the remainder of one sleeve, piecing and the neck and button bands. It is a bit fussy given that the striping pattern has you working with 4 balls of yarn, (and I did choose mohair to add to the stripe-pattern.jpgfussiness — can you see the blue and green solid stripes amidst the variegated?). I think that is one reason it became a UFO. The other is that it got packed up for the move from my apartment in Norfolk to the house in Portsmouth about a year ago. band-detail.jpgI was content to leave it packed till I got here and got my organization plan in gear for my office. Then it was in plain sight…and it kept looking at me, shaking its head and making those little “tsk tsk” noises. I did get about 4 inches accomplished at knit group and it is in my active knitting basket, so I declare it is no longer a UFO, but now a WIP. It made me do it.

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Speaking of group, we had a very good time Saturday. We all accomplished a lot given that we took over this corner of the coffee shop for about 6 hours! We are lucky to have venues that let anne-crochets.jpgmj.jpgus REALLY relax. The thing that caused the most stir was the fact that Anne started a crochet project…and with acrylic yarn at that! Those who have been with the group since its beginning were amazed as the Anne we know and love does NOT crochet or use acrylic. A banner day for her open-mindedness. The yarn she was using was the Berocco Comfort yarn, and I have to admit, I really liked the feel of it. How great for baby stuff! I brought some mint plants and cut mint to MJ. She in turn brought me the Teosinte pattern that I had left at group last week. A good trade.

I was there for about 4 1/2 of the 6 hours and worked on my Teosinte socks as well as the sleeve of the cardigan. (I had to frog about 2 inches — teosinte-progress.jpghadn’t paid attention to the striping, and though it’s subtle, I would have known. Love frogging mohair — especially that has been carried in a twist up the side!) I didn’t make the progress on Teosinte as I’d hoped while traveling. The problem of traveling with folks from work is that you actually do work during the flights! That’s okay, I’m at the heel gusset now. It’s an interesting one — not the one called for in the pattern, it’s one I’ve adapted from a Wendy Knits freebie.

The rest of the weekend has been quite enjoyable too. The dogs and I (of course) have taken several walks and bunny.jpgcounted many bunnies. I shot a few pictures this morning. The bunnie pattern is to sit up and take notice of us and then to freeze. If it thinks we’ll get close, it will then transition into a flattended crouch to try to pretend bunny-pretending-to-be-a-rock.jpgthat it is really just a rock and nothing to which anyone should pay any mind. When you get to about 10 feet away they take off in a flash of bumping white tail speeding off into the distance.

birthday-goodies.JPGI also got a box with some VERY lovely gifts . In it was hand spun Betsy Viola yarn in a gorgeous magenta and blue-grey colorway, the Harlot’s Things I Learned While Knitting book and a really great CD by Regina Spektor. I didn’t even know Regina Spektor. She’s awesome. I think my favorite song is probably “That Time” — so cheap and JUIcy! The gifts were for my belated birthday from my twin. I know she remembered the birthday, so I’m not upset the actual recognition came a few days later. In fact it rather extended my birthday enjoyment.