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

Archive for January, 2009


Something old, something new…

Dear Jan,

The Bohus monkey is temporarily off my back.  I’m using Wild Carrot as methadone, but I think it is only going to keep me straight for a short while.  Once bitten by the Bohus bug, there is no going back.

27.jpgThe veil is a nice drug to take, though, so I’m happy for now.  Though it looks, as lace does before blocking, like a pretty but damp rag, I am really enjoying this knit.  It is in 32 sections, all the same, very easy to check your work and read where you are supposed to be.  I’d recommend it for those who are just branching out in lace.  I’ve just finished row 87 of 150 rows, so that is 33.64% done.  And it is still January, so with 3 months to go till the wedding, no sweat (on this front, anyway).

113.jpg I am riding the winter shuttle to work as much as possible.  We have 3 main locations in the Twin Cities, one of which I live very close to, another of which is where my office is; I live about 10 miles from that.  In the winter, they run a shuttle between the 3 sites and I just park at the close one and hop the shuttle to work.  Saves the stress of winter driving, saves me gas and mileage on my car, AND I CAN KNIT!  I don’t dare take the veil through the winter slush, so I have my travel project – remember Rivendell Stone?  It is a fun sock that I’m doing with STR Seduction (50:50 (I think) merino:tencel, a gift from Karen) from Jainell Laidman’s Eclectic Sole, pattern name Rivendell.  Yes, I started this last July – I’ve been distracted.  I’m hoping to finish before the end of March, with most of the knitting on the shuttle.

Well, the temp is an incredible 27F here, so I’m going to go put my shorts on and clean up the yard a bit.  It will make the spring thaw clean up that much more bearable.  I can’t imagine having two dogs…

Love,

Ellen

P.S.  There is going to be a Bohus Knit Out reprise at the American Swedish Institute on March 15.  It would be swell if you could come.  You might even score a MN Knitters’ Guild knitting bag as a door prize.

Bohus behind us, Bohus before us

Hi, Jan,

Tonight marked the end of the opening weekend for the Bohus exhibit at the American Swedish Institute, at least for me. Susanna Hansson will be teaching one more workshop tomorrow, but I have to go back to work. Everyone concerned seems to think it was a big, big success. I agree without reserve.

Though we had to respect museum prohibitions on photography in the galleries, we were invited today to take pictures of each other in the lecture halls. I jumped on this opportunity. Here is an array of Bohus royalty, all photographed with the court jester and putting up with it very nicely. (Those Swedes are wonderfully polite!)

42.jpgFirst we have Solveig Gustafson, the woman who has made it possible for today’s knitters to live the dream of recreating a very accurate reproduction of the original sweaters. She is a one woman show, carefully reproducing the exact colors of yarn and writing the patterns for the sweaters.  You can order her kits at her website, SOLsilke.  A limited number of designs are also available from the ASI.

71.jpgHere is Kerstin Olsson, designer of so many lovely sweaters including The Egg and all of its cousins (New Azalea, Green Myrtle, and others).  She is as lovely as her sweaters, always with a smile on her face and very friendly.  She made my night when she complimented me on the hair clip I had made using the Blue Shimmer pattern.

64.jpgKjell Andersson produced the film, “Bohus Knitting – From Relief Work to World Success”.  I posted about the film yesterday.  I can confirm today that the film is available from the ASI gift shop or directly from Kjell himself.  You can also read about his studio at the same link.  I am sure he would appreciate your contact with comments on the film.  He didn’t mind when I told him it made me cry!

121.jpgMary Jo Burke of Stagecoach Yarns gave a wonderful presentation on how Bohus knitting energy started to build in the United States, taking us through early magazine articles (check out Knitting Letters: A to Z for a comprehensive bibliography of same) and the collaboration that brought forth the book, Poems of Color, as well as yarn for American knitters. I especially enjoyed her chemist’s approach to reproducible dye solutions, working with concentrated solutions rather than measuring solid dyes for each batch.  It was also fascinating to hear how the dyes are all like unique animals (she called them pets) with different personalities.  Some, she said, were unfaithful to her, changing overnight, so she would divorce herself from them.  She didn’t put up with one night stands, she said, to a houseful of laughter.

On a more sober note, she related how the likely pollution of a planned mega-dairy within a mile of her house will ruin the quality of her water and of the air.  She is putting all of her energy into working with the community group fighting this megalith that threatens her town and her livelihood, and sadly, told us that this meant closing out her fiber efforts now.  History repeats itself – it was water pollution that closed the mill that produced the angora yarn for the original sweaters.

121.jpgSomehow I failed to get a photo of Susanna Hansson at this event.  Funny, because she is why I got into all of this in the first place.  I blogged before about her wonderful workshop which I took last April.  Here is a reprise photo from that time.  It was so wonderful to reconnect with her.  What an example of what one person can accomplish.  It is through her consistent efforts to bring Bohus knitting to American knitters, collecting sweaters, teaching classes, making connections, that we are seeing a resurgence in interest in the subject.  Heck, I bought my copy of Poems of Color at Half-Price Books for about $6 a few years back.  Just last year, before it finally got reprinted, it was going for crazy high prices on e-bay, if you could even find a copy.  I attribute that growth in interest to Susanna.

110.jpg131.jpgHere are a few gratuitous Bohus shots for you.  Yes, Susan did wear her Swan, just as predicted.  And Lynette showed off another gorgeous sweater, this one the Rose Collar, if I recall correctly.  I hope you all noted the green mist on Solveig in the early shot.

141.jpgIt was so special to be part of this exhibit.  Just being here, hearing the stories, seeing knitters connect in such a passionate way was more than reward enough for the small effort I made to help with the knit out and organizing the after event dinner last night.  I couldn’t believe it when Solveig actually presented me with a skein of her silk yarn as a thank you.  Such a gracious woman, and I will so treasure the yarn.  She suggested it become a scarf, and that is certainly what it will be.  Maybe birch leaves, which remind me of Sweden.

Finally, I was invited to attend a dinner for those involved with the exhibit.  It suddenly hit me – in a tiny way, I am now part of Bohus history.  Goosebump moment.  Indeed, everyone who attended or the exhibit this weekend or will attend during its run is a part of the history, too.

26.jpgAll of us can play a part in the future of Bohus knitting.  The curator of the Bohus exhibit announced that the ASI would sponsor a special Bohus award for the MN state fair this year, so there’s a start (would it be possible to capture the texture of a Bohus sweater in a butter sculpture?).  Even if you don’t live in MN, how about trying a Bohus project and entering it in your state fair?  Wristers are achievable for most any knitter.  Wouldn’t it be fun to suddenly have this appearance of Bohus all around the country?  And if you are within striking distance of Minneapolis before March 29, you’ve got to see the exhibit.  Who knows when the next time so many of these garments will be in one place again?

For now, the future of Bohus knitting for me is in my dreams.

Good night!

Ellen

K91tog

Hi, Jan,

That’s right, at least 91 knitters showed up for the Knit Out event at the ASI Bohus exhibit opening weekend.  What fun to see the diversity – old knitters, young knitters, female knitters, male knitters, expert knitters, novice knitters.  And the knitwear on everyone was a bonus treat – the Bohus sweaters on display remained a great distraction, but heck, there was a whole ‘nother exhibit on everyone’s backs and heads!

My theme for the day was connections, bringing knitters together.  Energy seemed to radiate from the clusters of knitters.  You’d see a knitter in one group suddenly turn to another group saying, “I didn’t mean to overhear, but could you tell me about that pattern/technique/yarn, too?  Impromptu lessons were happening all around.  Comments on how to keep knitting groups running.  And the one that made me really pleased – one knitter commented how she was learning even more about the Bohus tradition from other knitters attending the event, beyond the wealth of information in the films and lectures.

Speaking of films, I found tears running down my cheeks as the new documentary, “Bohus Knitting – From Relief Work to World Success” produced by  Kjell Andersson  ended.  The Bohus history, which I find so compelling, was made richer for me upon learning how the founder, Emma Jacobson, and her husband worked to help Jewish family and friends emigrate to Sweden, much to their political disadvantage.  The respect which the knitters were given by the Bohus Stickning organization touched my feminist heart, as well.

231.jpg7.jpg112.jpgWe ended the day with a casual get-together of 14 of the attendees.  We had a number of Bohus sweaters with us – check these out.  suebell (Ravatar) is examining stashmuffin’s mother’s authentic Bohus, which is a pattern we can’t identify (the sweater suffered some dye bleeding which confuses things).  She’s wearing a Blue Flower.  Yesterday she had a Wild Apple on, and I am predicting her Swan to show up tomorrow.  And look at Lynette wearing a gorgeous Blue Shimmer and holding up a Forest Darkness in progress.  Great food, tons of laughs, and even some knitting – and we managed to split the check with no problem.  We attributed it to the superior math skills that knitting teaches us.

I am feeling so spoiled with one more day of fun to look forward to.  Monday is going to be extra hard this week!

Love,

Ellen

P.S. Be sure to check out Susan and Sally’s blog for more info on the exhibit.

P.P.S.  Wendyknits also writes about the opening night – and you can just see the top of my head and the shoulder of my Forest Darkness in her photo of Bohus wearers towards the bottom of the post.

First night

Hi, Jan,

If the rest of the Bohus exhibit lives up to the first night, it will be a tremendous event.  What fun to feel a smidgen a part of the inner circle – because I volunteered to help the MN Knitters’ Guild effort to promote the event, I got invited to the VIP reception.  We got champagne, and the general public just got wine.

But the real fun was meeting people – I saw a woman in a Wild Apple pullover and knew it had to be suebell from Ravelry.  woolyjooly came up and said “twinsetellen!  you finished your Forsest Darkness!”  Dyebat was excited to introduce herself, but not half as excited as I was to meet her, one of the knitting pantheon.  The museum staff was astounded at the way we were all identifying ourselves by our Ravatars.  The muggle, no matter how well intentioned, often just don’t get us.

And getting to shake the hands of Kirsten Olson, one of the original designers, and Solveig Gustafson, who so carefully reproduces the yarns and patterns so we can knit these gorgeous creations ourselves.  And Susanna Hansson is always a delight.

I won’t deny that is was such pure pleasure to be there wearing my Forest Darkness and getting petted by all sorts of people.  It was a wonderful way to break the ice and I chatted with older Swedish women about their trips to museums in Sweden and Swedish folk costumes and what was a reproduction, what was an original, and what was an authentic reproduction.  The museum asked the 5 of us who showed up in our Bohus sweaters to pose for a picture on the staircase.  I expected many more Bohus sweaters, but perhaps we’ll see more tomorrow.  Besides Bohus, there were tons of gorgeous sweaters and hats.

A highlight of the evening was hearing Solveig speak about her journey through Bohus knitting.  She was so fun and candid.  Her background is marketing and economics, but she broke free after a long career with Volvo and indulged her creative side.  But her pragmatic background was evident – when asked how long it took her to knit a sample, she admitted that if necessary, she could knit a yoke in two days.  But what about the body of the sweater?  Blush and grin – “my husband does that on a machine”.  And asked if she felt a spiritual connection through the intensity of her work in recreating a pattern – a simple “no” with a giggle.

Bad news, though – no cameras allowed.  I’ll see if I can’t trap someone outside of the museum so you can see these charming people, but for now, you will have to picture it in your head.

I’ll fill you in on some of the sweaters in the exhibit tomorrow.  For tonight I was still swooning, so a better description will have to come later.

Love,

Ellen

Praise song for the day…

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,

any thing can be made, any sentence begun.

—from Elizabeth Alexander’s inaugural poem

It expresses the hope, the relief, the optimism I felt as I watched the swearing in.  I was on a business trip to UW-Madison and got to watch in their spanking new symposium center on the big screen, surrounded by perhaps 200 faculty and students.  Imagine the cheer for the line “We will restore science to its rightful place”  from these academics.  Very fun.

I loved the poem read after the speech.  It touched my heart and made me feel part of the miracle that is our country.  Obama’s speech made me feel glad to be asked, finally, to make a sacrifice for the country.  As President Obama said:

…we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

I’m sure you knew this already, given the sacrifices you and yours have already made for the country.  I’m happy to take my turn now, in some way.

Love,

Ellen

I Have a Baby to Knit For!!

Dear Ellen,

No, Marie and Heidi aren’t expecting.  (I give them 2 more years before the nagging starts!)  It’s little Andrew, the baby of Amy, one of the cadets who we had sponsored while we were at West Point.   dscn2.JPGdscn5.JPGShe’s kind of doing what I did — is teaching on exchange with the Air Force here in Colorado Springs at the Air Force Academy.  We didn’t know she was here till we exchanged Christmas cards.  She came over on Saturday morning with her husband Jeff and mom Marilyn.  We plan on seeing more of them…and you can expect to see Andrew in a Baby Surprise before too long!

Although I don’t have any pictures of knitting for this post, I did make progress on Allen’s sweater and his Noro 2 Row Striped Scarf.  As to the latter, I really love 95% of it…but there’s a little piece where the two colorways managed to almost match in a muddy gray color.  This makes the striping almost imperceptible.  I’m seriously debating cutting it out.  I figure I can figure out the grafting to reproduce the K1-P1 ribbing.  Ever try anything like that?  Dale insists he loves the gray spot…maybe I will if I set it aside and look at it with some distance — in natural light.

dscn0894.JPGdscn0893.JPGdscn0900.JPGI’ve been very good about the personal fitness commitment.  Diet dscn0897.JPGdscn0194.JPGhas been healthy and I’ve been getting out to the gym and such.  In keeping with movement every day, today we went to Bear Creek Park and hiked around briskly for about 45 minutes.  The dogs loved pretending that they were dogs of the wild.  Note to self…when setting self-timer, make sure picnic table doesn’t obscure view.  We saw a grizzly bear.

Love, Jan

All the gory details…

Dear Jan,

If you are up to your gills on Deep Into the Forest, just skip to the bottom of this post and ogle lace in progress.  Otherwise, read on!

52.jpgA recap on the project – this was my Forest Darkness Bohus reproduction.  I purchased my kit from SOLsilke and was amazed at the speed with which it made its way to Minnesota from Sweden.  Supposedly, it was a birthday gift from Wilson, but I opened it early and started knitting in June.

I knit it on size 0’s and 00’s.  This was based on my gauge on my wristlets, but somehow gauges change and I ended up at a much smaller gauge than intended.  This meant adjustment to the pattern, lots more knitting, but with the bonus of an incredibly supple fabric.  I will knit my next one at the proper gauge, but I don’t regret the gauge on this one.  Not much, anyway.

19.jpgI also knit it flat, contrary to popular trend of knitting these in the round but in agreement with the traditional methods.  I’m glad I did, to have had the experience, and the seaming wasn’t even that bad (though best done in bright daylight).  It was fun to see the seams come together.

The buttons should actually be olive colored shell buttons, but I wasn’t able to find the right ones yet.  I did find these very sweet buttons which look very much like the flowers on last year’s Royal Copenhagen plate, so that seems OK.

8.jpgThe fit isn’t perfect, I’ll be the first to admit.  A little snug, narrow in the shoulders and too deep in the armholes, but I’ll wear it buttoned in the middle or not at all – it is WARM!  And just to hold this sweater is to love it.

25.jpgAs I was finishing the second sleeve, I noticed a tiny edge was coming undone (I hadn’t woven in the end of the cast off in case I needed to adjust length).  I had this sudden impulse of missing the knitting of all those tiny stitches, so I saved these last few to cast off after everything else on the sweater was done – just to have a little knitting right at the very end of it.

101.jpg111.jpgBecause seaming went best in the daylight, I did make progress on Wild Carrot.  Lace isn’t very conducive to photos in progress – looks too much like an old rag – but the second shot shows the pattern developing into the spiraling swirl of beauty that the Queen Anne’s Lace pattern is.

91.jpgAnd finally, one of my travel projects finally got in the way of the camera.  I call these two socks on one circ Magically Loopy, because there sure are a lot of loops.  I’m not sure I’m sold on this technique, but I’ll finish these with it and see if I get convinced.  At least there won’t be a second sock syndrome.

Love,

Ellen

Made it.

Dear Jan,

17.jpgI can’t really believe I made my Bohus exhibit deadline for finishing Deep Into the Forest, and I can’t really believe I made it, at all.  But here she is.  I finished last night.  More details to come, and likely new buttons, as these definitely aren’t traditional but were all I could find for now.

Gotta go to work now, love ya,

Ellen

P.S. Also – 9.8% of K’s veil is knit up.

Wii are having fun

Dear Jan,

24.jpgI’m pretty sure that in a couple of weeks I will stop boring you and everyone else with descriptions of my family playing Wii, but it is such a novelty for us right now that I can’t help myself.  I get so tickled watching Jenny and Wilson boxing.  Right now we only have one of the extra boxing controllers so they only box virtual opponents, not each other, thankfully.  Wilson is good, methodically slugging away.  He has yet to lose a bout, but we notice the opponents are actually starting to fight back.  Jenny is incredibly fast, jabbing zit-zit-zit-zit-zit.  We giggle watching her, mostly out of amazement.  We didn’t know she could move that fast!  I don’t have a shot of this action, so this one of the two of them playing laser hockey will have to suffice.

16.jpgAs will this blurry photo of the start of Karen’s shawl, the Queen Anne’s Lace pattern by MMario Leo a Pola de Finale Emelia (MMario on Ravelry, so I suppose his real name is Leo, but this is how he listed his name on the pattern, so who am I to argue?).   I am calling my version “Wild Carrot” because I am knitting away at it so wildly.  Also, Daucus carota seemed a bit too formal.

Informally yours,

Love,

Ellen

You know it’s cold when…

…you get ice cream headache (aka freeze eye) walking the 200 feet to your car.

…your glasses fog up while you are inside your car.

…you can’t hear a conversation over the squeaking snow as you walk on it.

I suspect when we hit the 20’s on Saturday we will see people in shorts.  It will feel like summer.

In the meantime, I’ve been keeping busy with warm yarn.

10.jpgHere is how I blocked a swatch for Karen’s veil – pinned in place on a sweater drying rack.  It worked great.

14.jpgAnd here is how Deep Into the Forest looked during her first bath.  The seams aren’t done yet, I thought they’d be easier on a blocked sweater, and I was right.   They are progressing, but I am hoping to do the rest this weekend during daylight.  Even wearing my headlamp the light just isn’t bright enought to keep from straining my eyes.

62.jpg9.jpgAnd in some unrelated fun, did you know you can make a Slinky(TM) out of celery?  This is Jenny’s friend, Kim.  Later Jenny and Kim trounced us in Trivial Pursuit and insisted on victory pictures.

Enough for now – I’ll be late for a knit night out.

Love,

Ellen

P.S.  This just in…

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN
730 PM CST THU JAN 15 2009

…DANGEROUSLY COLD WIND CHILLS WILL CONTINUE…

.A WIND CHILL WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FOR EAST CENTRAL AND
SOUTHEAST MINNESOTA…INCLUDING THE TWIN CITIES METRO AREA…AND
WEST CENTRAL WISCONSIN UNTIL NOON ON FRIDAY.

WIND SPEEDS AROUND 5 MPH WILL BE COMMON TONIGHT. COMBINED WITH
LOWS OF 20 TO 30 BELOW… WIND CHILL VALUES WILL DROP TO 35 TO 50
BELOW BY FRIDAY MORNING. THEREFORE THE WIND CHILL WARNING
CONTINUES UNTIL NOON ON FRIDAY.

I suppose not so surprisingly, I was the only knitter who showed up tonight.  I enjoyed a mug of hot milk and a plate of tofu scramble and hied myself home, where I found that my husband is now 52.  Yes, he found a Wii unit for sale while I was out and bought it, thereby crossing the last virtual birthday gift off the list and allowing him to now claim his actual age.