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

Archive for February, 2009


Timelines

Dear Jan,

Is two months before the wedding really the right time to start designing a sweater?

Honestly, I didn’t intend to do this.  I started with the good intentions to knit a simple shrug, lacy and lovely, of course, but simple.  The lacy bit is what did it.  It led me to lace cardigans, which led me to Simona Merchant-Dest’s #20 Lace Cardigan, Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2008.  Very dressy, nice add to my relatively simple MOB dress.  I’m sure I can knit that much sweater in a couple of months.

But…VK only published the pattern in size S/M.  (What gives, VK, do only tiny people get married?)  OK, I can do arithmetic, no problem.  Oh, look at how that pattern is designed – the front bands are cast on at the same time as the peplum, then you decrease in the lace patterns on the peplum to create the curve, the pattern doesn’t spell out clearly where the side seams are…crud, this is a bit more complicated than I thought.  You can get an idea of what I’m facing from Red Knit’s post here.

41.jpgDeep breathe, ok, I can still do this.  Gauge swatches needed, careful tracking of changes, um, you know, I think that lace inset on the peplum is a bit more geometric than I like.  Wouldn’t some nice birch leaves look prettier, especially for a garden wedding?  And they’d go with the roses in my dress.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  Hmmm, the birch leaf lace pattern has a shorter repeat than the lace inset, I guess I’ll have to adjust for that.  (The swatch shown is backed by the dress – I love the way the yarn pulls out the brighter blue.)

Oh, the decreases that shape the curves of the peplum happen between the lace insets.   I’ll have to go back to the beginning and adjust cast on so it all works out arithmetically.  I hope it works out in shaping, too.  I’m not sure I’m brave enough to look at the next shaping section- wouldn’t it be simpler to just get to that point and then work out something entirely new to fit if I have to?

Gee, am I designing my own pattern at this point?  It sure is starting to feel like it.  ‘Cause other than the shaping for the peplum and adjusting the width of the front and back, I am going to have to reshape the scyes and the sleeve caps.  Oh, and did I mention that I am toying with the idea of a canterbury bell lace instead of the waterfall pattern used in the body?

Yeah, I think I am designing my own pattern, heavily inspired by #20 Lace Cardigan, but quite my own.  Remind me that I said this was my own pattern if it doesn’t work out and I try to blame Simona!

I hope your London trip has been wonderful, on so many levels.

Love,

Ellen

Never doubt the power of the wet block.

Dear Jan,

14.jpg81.jpgI don’t know why I doubted it.  I’ve done it before, and yet I couldn’t quite believe in the transformation that a wet block creates.  I am happily reporting that I was a real silly.  While I was pretty happy with the unblocked shawl, shown here spread on the bed, I am near delirious with the blocked shawl, shown draped over the stair rail.

10.jpg121.jpgWild Carrot measures about 68″ in diameter.  I’m a tad concerned it is too long, but I think that because Karen will be wearing it when her train is down and will convert it to a shawl for the reception, it should be fine.  The weight is good – just under 150 grams and because it is so spread out, the fabric just floats around you.  It will look much lovelier on Karen, but to give you an idea, here I am modeling it as veil.

71.jpg The way the spirals undulate towards the center of this shawl  give me a funny feeling in my stomach – a good funny feeling, if you know what I mean.   I think it is this simultaneous mathematical design and sheer beauty that tickles something inside of me.

The statistics:  Size 8 needles, Queen Anne’s Lace by Mmario (Ravelry), Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace, just under 3 skeins or about 1350 yards.

I hope you are safe and sound in London.  Give my best to Vanessa.

Love,

Ellen

Off the needles!

Hi, Jan,

13.jpgWinter came back last night.  The fresh 5″ of snow made everything very pretty and gave us some exercise this morning in shoveling it.  It also kept me from working non-stop on Wild Carrot, probably a good thing for the ache that has developed in my right elbow.  I thought it was a Wii injury, but now am thinking that two solid months of knitting intensely may be pushing it a bit.

24.jpg7.jpgEven so, I did get back to the shawl/veil and got her off the needles.  I’m very happy with the results, though it is too early to tell if this will work for a veil.  I am concerned that it might be a tad more visually dense than we want.  A severe blocking will tell that tale.  As we plan to use our bed tonight, I think that will have to wait till tomorrow.  I’m thinking if I get her pinned out in the morning,  Wild Carrot will be ready to unpin by bedtime.

Wilson always worries about all the pins that fly around when I’m blocking, especially when I use our bed.  I just remind him that it is nice to keep things exciting, heh!

Love,

Ellen

Five minutes

Hi, Jan,

12.jpgGuess what you can do in 5 minutes?  Write a short post, including uploading the photos is one answer.  Or drive to my new knitting group (still sticking with the old, no worries).  For some reason, I never got in my head how close the Wednesdays at Caribou group that Carrie goes to actually was.  I don’t even have to cross major roadways to get there.  Now I’ll feel like I can run out and have the fun of group knitting on Wednesdays even if I only have 30 minutes to knit.  Kind of like picking up a gallon of milk – I can run out for a knitting fix!  Here are Cindy, Carrie, Sandy, Lynn, Nona, and me, clockwise from Cindy.  (And yes, that is Karen’s veil in my lap – 85.5% done).

23.jpgEveryone had great projects – lots of socks, but I thought I’d highlight just one.  Sandy brought her very first cable for show and tell. It is such soft alpaca.  We all wanted it.

Now I have to get to work.  Too bad that takes more than 5 minutes.

Love,

Ellen

Flies’ eyes

31.jpgDon’t you think that is what the beads on my fairy purse look like?  I’m calling it Drosophila in honor of all the little lab fruit flies whose shiny red eyes have stared up at me.  The beads aren’t actually that red, though – more irridescent – but I sure couldn’t capture that with the camera.

I started this years ago and got the bag part knit in a hurry then was stymied on how to handle the straps.  It’s a cutey, I have no idea what I’ll ever do with it (cell phones have eliminated the need for a nice girl to have change on hand for an emergency phone call), but it is fun to share. Susan Rainey’s recent Sunburst Bags were my inspiration to get it posted, combined with the serendipitous discovery of the unfinished mite as I was cleaning out a drawer. And with Susan’s suggestion to use the straps from her Beaded Amulet Bag pattern (free on her site), I now have ideas for the cording.

22.jpgAnother fun thing to share – my souvenir from my Toronto trip – Canadian hemp yarn.  It is Hemp for Knitting’s AllHemp6Lux.  I am thinking the most fun dishtowels ever.

And that is what makes my life so darned exciting.

Love,

Ellen

Things That Divide Us

Hi Ellen,

dscn1018.JPGdscn0999.JPGSometimes one egg divides and two people are the result.  Sometimes people are divided by their beliefs.  Sometimes you have to divide egg whites from their yolks if you want to make meringues.  And sometimes you see a harsh reality that divides North America and get to ski on it.  Okay, so it wasn’t so harsh today, but they tell me that if it’s cloudy and windy, it is REALLY, REALLY cold!  Yes, today we went to Monarch Mountain with good friends Mike, Julie and Ron to ski the Continental Divide.

dscn0980.JPGI was clever enough to realize that a hiatus of 10 years merited a lesson.  Doug came to my rescue (actually to my group’s rescue — 1/3 the cost of a private lesson and longer!) and helped me get my skis back under me.  Though I was only with him for part of the morning, by the end of the day dscn1019.JPGI was doing a blue run with success.   I credit the fact that Ron knows Monarch like the back of his hand, is an excellent skier, and was an instructor not many years ago.  We went all the way to the top of the mountain and skied along the crest of the divide before heading down aforementioned blue run.  dscn1017.JPGdscn1023.JPGI was a bit nervous about going over the western edge (left photo)…especially since Monarch’s runs are on the eastern edge (right photo).  If you look closely, you can see Pikes Peak.

dscn1009.JPGdscn0194.JPGDid you know that Colorado Pines sometimes grow pre-decorated for the holidays?  I am told it helps if they are in proximity to ski lifts during Mardi Gras season.  And we saw a grizzly bear.

I did some work on the Noro scarf on the way up and back.  (Thought I’d better get some knitting into a post!)

Love, Jan

In which the knitting shanty is explained

Hi, Jan,

4.jpgThe last few years a group of artists have grabbed some space in the unregulated territory that is lake ice and created a tiny community of shanties, aka arty fish houses.  Picture “Grumpy Old Men” as avant garde 20-somethings and you’ll get an idea of what they offer.  One shanty gets all of its power from people peddling generators, one has fringe theater performances all weekend, and one even has knitting (among many others, get the full scoop here).

5.jpg6.jpgToday is the last day of it all for this year, so I made a quick run out there to see just who these knitters who thrive on the ice are.  It’s a group of 4 women who have done this for 4 years so far.  They have kept a ginormous scarf going, rapping it around the interior of the house, which was also decorated with blocks they are collecting for creating charity blankets.  I’ll have to come better prepared next year.

8.jpgI did stay and knit a bit on Karen’s veil and did about 6 inches on the group scarf.  Next year I’ll bring a friend.  There was so much in and out of folks that it was hard to connect with anyone there, but it was kind of cool to knit on the ice.  And as for any worries about the safety – take a look at the ice.  I’m guessing 18 inches if not 3 feet – totally sound.

9.jpgToday also marked the completion of my Rivendell Stone socks.  Vital statistics:  Blue Moon Fiber Arts Seduction, 50/50 merino/tencel, size 1 needles.  Pattern is Rivendell out of Eclectic Sole by Janel Leapman. The pattern is a hoot to knit.  I should have made the calf slightly larger, though, because mine are big enough that to stretch around, the sock has to shorten somewhat and that obscures the wonderful pattern.  The yarn makes a nice sturdy, absorbent feeling fabric.

I was glad to have 100% wool on the ice today, though.  These socks will wait until spring!

Love to all you guys,

Ellen

What the flock?

Dear Ellen,

I remember ice storms back east…where drizzle turns into sleet and all the branches get covered by a glaze of solid water.  Other than the damage caused by the weight of the ice overtaking less sturdy tree limbs (and other stuff)…and the crazy drivers trying to negotiate the ice rink that used to  be the roadways, I used to think ice storms were beautiful.  They really made the world a winter wonderland (especially if they were followed up by a few inches of snow).  dscn0965.JPGWell, here in Colorado, we have flock storms — these guys come in with really big aerosol cans of artificial flocking and they squirt it all over the trees to give them the look of those artificial Christmas trees that we thought looked too fake back in the 70’s. Okay, so it’s not really a bunch of guys.  It’s a natural phenomena caused by incredibly tiny snowflakes.  I’ve seen it three times now, but this is the first time I had my camera to produce evidence.  dscn0949.JPGdscn0954.JPGIt doesn’t last too long — as soon as the sun is high, it dissolves this confectioner’s sugar creation and all goes back to green.  Or the wind picks up and it can’t stick…or heavy snow comes down and covers it up.  As I look out my office window, I’m seeing beautiful green evergreens, that were these trees in the pictures this morning.  So ephemeral…more beautiful for it.

Not ephemeral is the constancy of Girl Scout Cookie sales — there is no escaping dscn0960.JPGthem.  Waiting to pounce as I walked into the commissary this morning (dazed and vulnerable by the flocked world outside), was a vicious creature called a “Brownie.”   She bared her teeth in a hideously seductive grin and spoke the words I dread each year…”Would you please help my troop by buying some cookies?”  This is unfair warfare.  I bought 3 boxes.  In theory they are for Dale….or to take into work…or to send Allen…

dscn0927.JPGLast week you may recall that I was on the road.  My travels looped through Dallas for the National Security Agency’s Information Assurance Symposium — where the speakers got great swag! — and ended in DC.  After wrapping work obligations on Friday, I was able to join up with Marie and Heidi.  They took me to a great deli in the Northeast and then to the Palace of Wonders for drinks and a burlesque show.  It was fun…and very funny. While the free display of skin I’d rather not see was definitely part of the genre, I pretty quickly became inured to it.  It really is about the humor after all…and these gals were very funny.  Except for one who was a beginner and seemed to take it WAY too seriously…she just seemed skanky.

I stayed through Sunday as Saturday had two great events in their own right.  First was a celebratory luncheon in honor of our first 4 star woman officer.  General Ann Dunwoody was promoted to 4 stars a few months ago, but this was the first chance to honor her as a group of woman admirals and generals.  There were over 60 women there…every one of them having attained at least one star.  They were active and retired and someone tallied up over 130 stars in all.  It was very moving, motivating and simply put, awesome.  I got to meet real pioneers who made it much easier for women like me to break the brass ceiling.  Too bad I didn’t bring my camera.

dscn0942.JPGSaturday night brought a different kind of senior leader gathering — the 206th Annual Wallow of the Military Order of the Carabao.  This is a group of veterans who have served in combat zones overseas.  They originally formed during the Philippine insurrection to spoof the “Secret Order of the Golden Dragon” — a group who pompously bragged about their service in China during the Boxer Rebellion.  That group was sleeping on silk and eating at banquets.  dscn0940.JPGdscn0936.JPGThe soldiers in the Philippines were sleeping on cots or in the mud and eating was often a question mark.  The spoof and sarcasm aspect of the group has been retained.  With much libation flowing, and much jocularity about, the meal was quite enjoyable.  And then it was followed by the Carabao Players presentation of the annual parody of politics and life in general.  You may get a sense from the pictures that they get pretty far out there.  dscn0941.JPGProbably the funniest sketch was about the CIA’s use of viagra to bribe tribal leaders in Afghanistan.  Skunk Baxter from the Doobie Brothers played “America the Beautiful.”  I ran into him in the hotel hallway later and thanked him…he sincerely said it was his privilege to play for us.  What a way to end the evening.

Oh, and I did some knitting…but not much.

Love, Jan

P.S. I have parental permission to include the Brownie’s picture here.  The carabao also agreed.  Idid not see any grizzlies.

Where holding socks was invented

Hi, Jan,

This question may never show up on the national geography bee, but do you know where holding socks was invented?  I guess it could show up in an international geography bee, which may give you a clue.  The answer is:

11.jpg21.jpgLettuce Knit, a shop brought to my attention by the Yarn Harlot.  I had the fortune to visit there this week while in Toronto on business.  It is a lovely shop, small but very well stocked and well organized, and the extremely  helpful and charming Natalie demonstrated that they really know their stuff.  She was able to coach me on how various yarns knit up, etc., and while I was there, she helped a nice man pick out sock yarn for his wife, treating him with total respect and not a bit of the “oh, isn’t that cute, a man in a yarn shop” that so irks me, having been on the “oh, isn’t that cute, a woman chemical engineer” side of things far too often.  Natalie is shown here holding my second Rivendell sock, which I have finished all but the toe graft.

3.jpgNatalie invited me to join them for knit night, but sadly I had a business dinner that didn’t end until after 10.  The up side of that was that I got to see the Toronto troupe of Second City perform.  They were, not unexpectedly, hilarious.  I took some photos on my cell phone, but they are all horribly blurry.  Here is one, just as proof.  Maybe someday I’ll see one or more of these faces on SNL, but even then I’ll harbor a bit of regret at not getting to knit night at Lettuce Knit.  (But I have another trip there in June, and I’m blocking Wednesday night in advance!)

My direct flight home got cancelled, putting me on a prop plane to Detroit and finally a flight to MSP arriving near midnight.  I would be bummed about that, but hearing about the other prop plane that crashed that night changed my attitude.  Hold your loved ones close this weekend.

You’re one of mine,

Ellen

Valentine’s came early

Hi, everyone,

What a nice way to start what I think is the longest month of the year.  Susan and Sally (aka The Rainey Sisters) nominated Twin Set for a blog award, sharing the love they received for a well-deserved nomination for their site. This is great for two reasons – to be nominated by sisters who blog obviously resonates with us, and it gives us a chance for some call outs to some other great blogs.

Kreativblogger

The deal is, if a recipient of the award, you are to complete the following mission:

1.  Copy the award to your site (phew, didn’t involve any coding.  Jan could have handled it, but I was flying solo – E)

2.  Link to the person from whom you received the award (right up top there, go check their site out!)

3.  Nominate 7 other bloggers (I am glad many who would typically be on our list have already gotten the honor, but how to limit it to 7 anyway?

4.  Link to the award recipients on your blog (seriously, go check these guys out!)

5.  Leave a message on the blogs you nominate (straightforward – even a biochemical engineer can handle that one)

Here are our nominees – we hit some that don’t make the lists so often, but are well worth your peeking in. Some are personal friends or relations,and some are connections via the internet. We wouldn’t force this on any of you, so if you’d rather not participate, no guilt.  Please do consider this to be a virtual tip of the hat to your work, at any rate.

White Coat Knitter– yes, she’s got our DNA, but she also writes a thought-provoking blog on women’s health issues, making it through med school, and yes, sometimes, knitting

Spare Room Knits – fearless knitter who has taken the plunge into designing.  Issues covered include politics, race, life in general, and Ava.

Will You Land? – an occasional nod to knitting, but mostly the prose here takes your to other places – fens and beehives and prairie and woods.

Knitting Freestyle – Erica is a prolific spinner who take fabulous photos of the process, end result, and swatches that result.  If I were going to go down the rabbit hole that is spinning, she would certainly be one of the reasons.

Stitchy McYarnpants – Stitchy (aka Debbie Brisson) blogs on about retro knits and style, much to our amusement.  She also serves as conservator to the Museum of Kitschy Stitches.  (Ha, got two nominations into one!)

Modeknit – Annie Modesitt is a class act who serves as an inspiration to anyone trying to balance all that life can throw at you and has most recently published Knit with Courage, Live with Hope.  She also occasionally knits with Ellen.

Dreaming of Germany — Cheryl tells of her love of Germany and of knitting, and the hope that she’ll do the latter in the former sometime soon.

There were so many others that we wanted to nominate.  Luckily Jocelyn and Bea had recently been nominated, but that still left off others.  It sure wasn’t for lack of love of the blogs.  But even Admirals have to play by the rules (well, almost, that was Jan that slipped in that double nominee up there…).

Check these blogs out in your spare (hah!) time.

Love,

Ellen