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

Archive for October, 2008


Bed Time Already?

Dear Ellen,

I’m supposed to be in bed, but am puzzling over the site format.  I’m certain I need to expand the width of the site to support your energy in bringing new features into our repertoire.  I just don’ t have time to find that bit of code right now.

dscn0547.JPGdscn0549.JPG I will take the time to say I’m back from a week of travel and have something new on the needles.  While in Norfolk I got to see Betsy and Cheryl at one of the meetings of Yarn for Supper (the corollary to Yarn for Breakfast).  Cheryl is wearing her way cool cabled sweater that she finished about 2 months ago.  And look how nicely Betsy’s scarf is coming!  It’s very cushy too.  I also saw Betsy with John and with Kathy and Jim another evening, but didn’t have photos of those.  dscn0550.JPGdscn0552.JPGAnd the new on needles is “A Proper Cardigan” — not yet in my Ravelry projects, but will get to it.  It’s for Vanessa, therefore must be proper.  It’s in Rowan Kid Classic in a glowing sand color.  I love me some Rowan yarn.

That’s it for now…I have an early morning!

Love, Jan

Progress on many fronts…

Hi, Jan,

81.jpgOne, or rather two, of the fronts – Deep into the Forest! I finally finished the back and it is so satisfying to be started with the fronts. What you see here is the bit of short row work you do to pull the front down a bit so the collar doesn’t choke you. A nice way to start because you get to see progress right away.

115.jpg26.jpgAnd the remodel is making progress, too. This picture tells the story of why we are doing this. And here is a close up of the tree just outside that window. It has been a particularly good year for color in the Twin Cities, and our maple is no exception. A new window is being installed on the wall to the left of this window, and then we’ll be done with this stage.

71.jpgI really should be focused on getting us moved back upstairs onto our beautiful new floors, but a work knitting retreat was a distraction. Stephen, the Glitter Knitter, from the Yarn Garage was there with lots of fabulous stuff. He is not only an incredible knitting resource, but he is a stalwart of Twin Cities charity knitting. He is behind many of the charity efforts done by the MN Knitter’s Guild, and he also supports our helmet liner project by cutting us a deal on the dozens and dozens of skeins of Cascade Superwash 220 that we use.

33.jpg43.jpg52.jpgHe also taught us a really cool cast-on. It gives a lovely decorative edge that is very similar on both sides. I made a little video of the technique which you can find over to the right, on the video tutorial page.

I used it to cast on for the class project – two socks simultaneously on one circular with multiple loops. Yes, it gets just as snarled as the name, all the loops, all the yarn ends, it’s crazy. I am trying a new yarn – Flat Feet sock flats. They are dyed as knit panels and then you unravel them as you knit. Very fun.Oh, we had a class on fiber properties, too. Um, I taught it, and I think it went pretty well. I’ll post more on that later. 101.jpgToday needs to be turned to continuing to straighten out the remodeling chaos. It’s a good day for it – gray and windy and yes, those are snowflakes on my sleeve.

Stay warm,

Love,

Ellen

P.S. Sorry the video really mixed up our site layout. Feel free to edit that if you’d like.

P.P.S. (Added Monday) I wussed out and just moved the video over to a new page for videos.  It is a relief to see the site looking organized again.

Centering

Dear Jan,

Two or three times a week I drive across the Mississippi, over the bridge to Nicollet Island, and then one more little bridge to the far side. It is a peaceful stretch once you get to the island. My workplace is just a few blocks down the river and then one block up the hill, so I’m minutes from work once I get to the island and all of my traffic issues are gone at that point.

114.jpgIn a case of the blindingly obvious, I realized that I could be stopping my car for a few moments and breathing in the peace (at least on the days that I wasn’t already late for a meeting). So I did just that on Friday. Here is the view of the river from the island. That is a hydroelectric plant behind the bridge, so even though not natural, it is actually a pretty thing. If it weren’t raining, I might have even knit for 5 minutes.

Love,

Ellen

I Know It Was Around Here Someplace…

Dear Ellen,

Where the heck did the weekend go?  Here I sit at 8:40 PM and a 4:45 AM wake-up taunting me over the fact that I have to finish packing, complete my absentee ballot and do myriad other things before I can go to bed.  The weekend — what a whirlwind!

dscn0525.JPGOkay, there’s plenty of evidence that the weekend was full.  Saturday I enjoyed both knit group and a trip to Denver where Dale and I enjoyed a lovely meal with Marc and Katie (John and Betsy’s daughter and her husband) and then went with them to see Chelsea Handler.  And then today we played 18 holes of golf with the General’s “mandatory” fun day.

Knitting was needed.  I hadn’t touched a needle all week what with my team’s responsibility to host a high level conference.  The conference went off with only a minor hitch or two and the principles were very pleased.  Nonetheless, I was dying to get at Julie’s Joint Socks.  I will see her this coming week, and would certainly like to have finished them by then!  The good news is that I’ve rounded the heels on both and am down to cuff knitting, so I’m optimistic that I can make it…I don’t see her till Thursday and I do have a day’s worth of travel tomorrow.  dscn0505.JPGdscn0506.JPGdscn0508.JPGChristy’s husband Ben came along to this session.  He’s mostly interested in knitting because of his work dyeing, and he hasn’t been knitting long, but he’s very good at it.  You have to love the work he put in to figure out the correct width of his scarf to get the vertical pooling of the rainbow colors.  Yes, he did the dye work himself.  dscn0509.JPGAnne faced the frog pond with the piece in this photo.  It’s a bulky knit sweater with big cables in the front.  It really seemed to be flying along till she one of us said, “Gee, that seems pretty narrow, even for you, Anne.”  She held it out, then measured, then realized that there was no way it was going to fit.  An amazingly poised woman, she merely said, “You know, it seems like I figure out a lot of mistakes at group…” and then started reminiscing over dscn0514.JPGa number of other such realizations.  Fortunately, she’s a process knitter and will enjoy the re-do, but she certainly would have preferred getting it the right circumference in the first place.  Christy is on the left working on some really pink socks and Kir is to the right working on silliness.

I got home just in time to leave for Denver where Katie is working on her graduate degree in Sociology and Marc is working for the Denver Newspaper Association in their interactive customer engagement efforts.  Their apartment is tiny, but warm (in the best way) and we were honored to be their first real dinner guests.   We enjoyed some nice wine, a baked cranberry-pineapple glazed chicken dish (and pilaf and spaghetti squash), a tasty and light mascarpone and fresh fruit dessert and then headed downtown.  dscn0521.JPGdscn0544.JPGChelsea was appearing at The Paramount.  The theater is very old…1929 art deco.  Unfortunately, their acoustics weren’t the greatest and we missed a lot of lines, but we heard enough to laugh loud and long.  Heather McDonald was the warm up dscn0527.JPGdscn0526.JPGact and she was funny too.  The only decent picture of Chelsea from our seats (and it wasn’t really so great anyway) was one for which I had inadvertently turned on the dscn0541.JPGflash…and promptly got “tsked!” by the usher.  We all had fun — parted company at the parking garage and Dale and I headed home.

We got home around 1:00 AM and I realized that Allen would be getting up right about then to head for the airport.  I got ready for bed and then called him to say so long…it will be awhile before we get another chance to talk.  He informed me that the swatches are on their way back to me, that he’s very pleased with the ideas and that he wants the double-stranded yarn with the K3-P1 ribbing.  I never should have given him the choice of double-stranded yarn if I had my heart set on the single strand plus seacell.  Oh well, I’ll save the sea cell for myself.  Right about now he should be arriving in Hong Kong with further passage to Malaysia where he’ll be meeting his submarine and finally starting his first job in the Navy.  I hope to hear from him by e-mail in the not too distant future.  (Sniff!  My baby boy!!)

This morning we dragged out early to get moving for the General’s Fun Day Outing.  I think I bristle at these mostly because they are for “couples”  — and the General explicitly spells out that a couple consists of one male and one female.  Ostensibly this is to keep the golf evenly played, but it still bugs me.  Dale is becoming interested in improving his game so I’ll probably hook him up with some lessons for Christmas.  He’s really got a pretty natural talent already, so with some lessons he might become a force with which to be contended!  We got home around 5:30 PM (Fun Day Dinner included!) and I screwed around till I realized I really had to get busy if I wanted to go to bed at any hour resembling sanity.

With that, this item (write blog post) is complete and I must finish packing and preparing my absentee ballot.  Then off to bed.  Hope you have a great week!

Love, Jan

I just was so tired of seeing myself in helmet liners…

113.jpgso Judit stepped in and modeled the last one for me. I knit it on a rapid turnaround trip this week – Wednesday in North Carolina, Thursday in Toronto, Friday home but exhausted.

This one is from a pattern a friend wrote up. It was a quick and easy knit, but I think I like my pattern’s results better.

Speaking of my pattern, I finally got around to posting it on a new page on our site – see, over there, on the right. The Bunny Socks made it there, too. Both are on Ravelry, as well, as free downloads. (Yes, I know you knew that, but I wanted anyone else who was reading to get the news.)

Love,

Ellen

Time for Swatches

No, Ellen, I’m not talking about the cheap plastic Swiss wrist watches (though I do think of them every time I use swatch as a verb!)  dscn0475.JPGdscn0480.JPGdscn0485.JPG  Instead I’m talking about the myriad swatches I knit in a rush to send to Allen so we could discuss some design options for the sweater I’m knitting for him.  I’ve given him two choices for yarn composition — a combo of Peruvian Pure Alpaca Fina knit with a cobweb weight 3-ply of seacell or double stranding of the alpaca.  I’m really fond of the first, so gave him more options there.  dscn0491.JPGdscn0496.JPGI’ve also given him colorway choices and some background fabric choices.  We’ll have a wonder mother-son talk once he receives them.  I’m thinking of a very simple sweater with saddle shoulders that would allow a motif to run from cuff to the collar.  dscn0498.JPGHe specifically stated he doesn’t want a cabled sweater, but I hope I can convince him to let me do that much.  It’ll then have short-placketed shawl collar of either 3X1 or 2X2 rib and the same rib at cuffs and waist.  Pretty simple, but for my first sweater design and the first sweater Allen will let me knit for him, I think that’s a good idea.

I had to do the knitting in a rush as he found out that he’s back on track to fly very soon to the far east to join his boat (we call submarines “boats” and ships “ships”).  He leaves on Sunday, so I needed to get the product in his hands.  Once he’s on the boat, who knows how often he’ll get mail.  It’s a small submarine, a fast attack boat, and they don’t get that many helicopter mail drops, so it’s likely he’ll only get physical mail every month or two when they make a port call.  I’ll let you know the address when we get it.

dscn0502.JPGThis burst of swatch knitting did cut into getting Julie’s Joint Socks further along their way to completion, but I do have both of them at the turn of the heel, so I believe I can complete them in time to give them to Julie in person when I’m back in Norfolk next week.  I’ve got this weekend and the flight out, so odds are good.  The picture shows them Sunday when only one was ready for the heel turn and the other still needed a gusset.  I did that last night.

jan-and-dale-behind-pikes-peak.JPGdscn0465.JPGdscn0463.JPGKnitting wasn’t the only think on our agenda this weekend.  (It really dscn0447.JPGwasn’t on Dale’s at all.)  We also made a trip to Mueller State Park and took a very enjoyable 4 mile (roughly) hike.  Mueller is on the back side of Pikes Peak.  (At least we Springs people feel it’s the back side.)  There was one place where you could see way up the Rocky Mountain chain…very neat.  The jan-in-the-aspens.JPGdscn0467.JPGdscn0452.JPGaspens were faded, but still beautiful.  Dale managed to take a full length picture of me that I don’t hate.  Note the lovely periwinkle micro-fleece vest.  I didn’t anticipate the wind and the effect it had on temperature on the eastern side of the mountain so simply had to purchase this in the gift shop.  (Hiking and shopping too!…it doesn’t get much better than that!)  We saw statues and pictures of dscn0194.JPGelk, many banks of pine cones, some squirrels and birds and also saw a grizzly bear.  And who’d a thunk it…Spanish Moss!  It was a very nice park.  And they rent cabins.  If we could get some of you folks out this way, what fun we could have.  I’m actually trying to brew up a knitting retreat weekend…knitting interspersed with hikes and brilliantly clean Rocky Mountain air — it could make one dizzy.  Or that could be the altitude.  At 9000 feet, it’s not extreme, but it could affect you!

Big conference this week…I’m already looking forward to the weekend.

Hope your travel goes well…and though I didn’t say it in the blog, I’m very jealous that you met Ann and Kay.  I wonder if they will mention it on their blog, after all, you are becoming quite the web personality.  By the way, did you tell them that I LOVE the new book...would like to make almost every design.

Love, Jan

Thanks, Ann and Kay!

Hey, Jan,

42.jpgI got to meet Ann and Kay of Mason-Dixon Knitting! They are as charming and funny in person as they are in their books and on their blog. They are not so blurry in person as they are in this picture. Jenny and Eryka came with me and we had a fun afternoon. I thanked them for serving as a model for our blog, which has been so much fun for me. I may have felt so sorry for a couple of folks who share my DNA who couldn’t be there that I just might have picked up a memento of the occasion for them.  I did tell them the sandbox sailor T-shirt was to represent you.

32.jpgNot meant to be in the same category, but look at this nice bunch of turkeys! They walked out of the woods just as we pulled out of the gas station (yes, the Prius needs gas once in a while). This is what fall in Minnesota looks like.

112.jpg25.jpgAnd, in the blast from past category, I couldn’t resist shooting these pictures of some very old feminine hygiene dispensers. Good reminders of how far the catamenial category has advanced since we were pubescent. I think the Auto Matron branding really communicates how industrial the whole affair was at one time. Thank heavens the internal protection had no pins!
Off on another trip – North Carolina and then Toronto, being in neither place long enough to notice I left Minnesota other than to get sleep deprived.

Love,

Ellen

The Prodigal Socks Return!

Hi, Jan!

111.jpgIn some late-breaking news worthy of an immediate post (to me anyway, probably not to anyone else), the remodelers found what I thought to be permanently lost socks in progress!

This yarn was dyed by Karen H, a member of my knitting group, during a group dying day. The socks were nearing completion when I LOST THEM! I thought they were lost while out holiday shopping and I retraced my steps and checked lost and founds and had totally given them up for lost, and yet I thought longingly of them every now and then. The yarn was so special, after all.

Then, during our remodel, when furniture was all moved, what should appear but the tiny carry-along knitting bag that these were stashed in. Hurrah!

24.jpgThe pattern is based on Wendy Johnson’s toe up gussetted sock, but I wildly improvised on the heel and gusset portion. The pattern on the cuff is a slip stitch pattern to really mix up the hand dyed colors. I hope I can remember what I was doing to create it.

Cheers,

Ellen

It’s bean crazy round here…

Dear Jan,

23.jpgRemember the Oaxacan pinto beans? The ones with lots of vines and no flowers? Well, now that we are overdue for our first hard frost, look what we have here. Insanity, I tell you.

110.jpgThankfully, the remodeling is progressing a little more rapidly than these darn beans did. Here is a shot from yesterday, in the kitchen. Still, living with all of your belongings in new spots and usually impossibly piled under something is nutty. It does help you sort out what you really need, because you actually go to the trouble of digging those things out. 41.jpg51.jpg61.jpg

31.jpgThe beans aren’t the only things benefiting from the late frost. The zinnias have been captivating, and the combination of Thai basil, zinnia, and marigold are such a satsifying combination. New colorway?

I had another little two day trip to make the week another “get further behind on regular work” week, which is also stressful. One cool thing – I got to have dinner at the home of a former head of Procter & Gamble R&D, where I got to see some really wonderful folk art. He and his wife have a collection that has merited museum exhibition. I faced an antique Amish quilt in perfect condition during dinner, and I am afraid my conversation lagged because of it.

I am now knitting the ribbing on the back of DITF and am looking forward to be knitting the fronts. It isn’t very exciting to look at, nor is it progressing rapidly as I am now using double aughts, so I’ll put off posting a photo until I’m at least done with all 3.5 inches of it.

3.5 inches on double aughts – now that is really crazy!

I hope your life is a bit less insane.

Love,

Ellen

Are You Ready for Some Football???

Dear Ellen,

dscn0406.JPGdscn0407.JPGdscn0403.JPGEvidently, the United States Air Force Academy Falcons were not quite as ready as they would have liked to have been.  Yesterday our Navy Midshipmen made the first score and then never let the Falcons take the lead dscn0404.JPGaway.  (Okay, we let them catch up several times, but never actually got ahead of us.)  It was a great game — in no way a blow-out and lots of tension for both sides.  In the end Navy won 33 to 27.  We had a very good time — sat with a mixture of Navy, Air Force and Army supporters and no one got out of line or noses out of joint.  We had a good model set for us down on the field with the Navy billy goat and Air Force falcons who seemed to get along just fine.

dscn0383.JPGThe night before we were out with other Navy friends, celebrating the 233rd birthday of your United States Navy.  It was one of the best Navy Birthday Balls to which I’ve gone.  The guest speaker was lively and entertaining, there were other good presentations (like slide shows of Navy dscn0371.JPGand Marine Corps in action over the years), we had a great mix of folks, a good band, good food and good toasts and wine with which to toast.   One tradition is for the cake to be cut by the oldest and youngest Sailors in company.  Our youngest was an 18 year-old Navy cheerleader and the oldest an 89 year old dscn0373.JPGdscn0375.JPGretired commander.  Very cool. We also had a great pep rally by all of the Navy cheerleaders.  I was a bit concerned that when they lofted their fellows into the air, their heads would bump on the ceiling.  It was close, but okay. Before the rally, we presented General Renuart (the 4 star Air Force general in charge at NORAD/USNORTHCOM) with a Navy goat with falcon feathers in his mouth.  Nothing like a little foreshadowing of the plot.

dscn0431.JPGIn knitting news, I am finally progressing on Julie’s Joint Socks (They are for Julie, my executive assistant back at NNWC — and are Joint because they’re purple.)  I played with several different pattern stitches and then settled on diamonds and ribs as simple enough to make good progress, yet having a result that looks more intricate than it is.  The Bellamoden fingering weight merino is lovely — even on size 0s!

I fell far short on my intention to get my office in order this weekend, but maybe I can plug away at it during the week this week.  I’m actually starting it out feeling fairly rested for a change, so I’m optimistic!  And I’m not on the road either.  While last week in Annapolis was fun (and gave me a chance to stock up on “Fear the Goat!” bumper stickers), I am so very glad to spend the next two weeks at home!

Love, Jan