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Archive for April, 2009


Up to my armpits…

Hi, Jan,

We are making progress on many fronts as we get closer and closer to wedding festivities.  Some gardening, some garage cleaning, some additional furniture (new mattress for guest bed, chairs for the new window room) and we believe that if we had a couple more weekends we’d be in good shape.  Of course, we only have one.  Hmmm…

26.jpg One of the best things we did was to put a birdfeeder up on the deck, now that we can actually see the deck from inside the house.  Within 20 minutes chickadees found it and led a stream of goldfinches, sparrows, house finches, cardinals, and today red winged blackbirds to the feast.  And oh, yes, one cheeky squirrel.  The long feeder is guaranteed squirrel proof (we’ll see!), but clearly the little platform feeder is the squirrel equivalent of a TV tray.  I’ll probably switch that one over to jelly for orioles, as the woman at the feeder store said squirrels won’t bother jelly much.

16.jpgMy wedding jacket is starting to accumulate enough fabric to make me believe it is feasible to finish.  I’m up to the scyes, and if I can make it to the sleeves by next weekend I think there is a chance.  But I might go shopping for a backup, anyway, just to take the pressure off.  It isn’t like I don’t have a few other things that I could do instead.

But with everything to be done yet, Wilson and I are not losing sight of what this is about – bringing two families together.  Actually, bringing lots of families together, as today while talking with Paula she mentioned how she is looking forward to meeting you and yours. It will be fun!

Love,

Ellen

(edited about 3 hours later) P.S.  I’m about halfway up the back towards the neck shaping now.  Am I building false hopes, only to be crushed later?  Stay tuned…

The mystery

Dear Jan,

I’m just pausing to reflect on the mystery that our connection to each other is, and to others, even those we have never met.  I only just caught up with the news that Kay‘s husband died, and I felt the web of my existence tugged at ever so gently but insistently as I read of it.

Love to you and all of yours,

Ellen

Guest Knitting

Dear Ellen,

dscn1243.JPGdscn1245.JPGThe week before last was rather exhausting — travel and 3 very high energy days of intense discussion in Omaha.  It was very nice to come home knowing that Jenny would be arriving the next day.   She got here Friday evening and we had some nice greetings and a bite to eat accompanied by an adult beverage.  I dragged her around dscn1247.JPGdscn1253.JPGdscn1246.JPGto local yarn shops and to knit group, put her to work dyeing Easter Eggs and having “traditional fun” with the “traditional fun tops” from the bottom of the dye package (which formed a lovely egg drying rack), dscn1254.JPGdscn1261.JPGdscn1262.JPGmade her entertain the dogs, take a photo of me making my 2009 snow angel, and sit and knit and watch movies with me.  She was rewarded by the Easter Bunny with a lovely (if I do say so myself) knitting Easter Basket.  dscn1269.JPGHer visit was quite satisfying — and a respite for me, who has been far too underwater with work stuff.  I loved “showing her off” to the ladies in group…she brought the amazing dress that she started and completed since heading for Arizona.  We bought ribbon for it on Saturday and it is FABULOUS.  Of course, I failed to take any pictures of that!

dscn1237.JPGdscn1235.JPGdscn1229.JPGThe weekend before Jenny arrived we did make it up to Copper Mountain for our last day of skiing.  We would’ve skied this weekend, but the pass you have to go through to get to the mountain had two avalanches.  We decided staying home and taking care of accumulated chores around the house was a far better idea.  The dump of snow on Colorado stopped about 2 miles from our doorstep.  No kidding…we got 4 inches or so, but intermixed with rain and temps above 35, so today we have none on the ground.  We have friends just down the road with 9 inches in their backyard.  Strange micro-climates here!

dscn1296.JPGdscn1295.JPGStrange travel adventures this week (the trip to New Orleans that wasn’t — never made it, but spent a day in DFW airport) gave me a good deal of knitting dscn1289.JPGtime and I finished an EZ baby surprise for a friend’s toddler and a tea cozy to be sent to England.  Vanessa saw it in one of my knitting magazines (it’s also in “Wild Tea Cozies”) and asked for it.  I couldn’t say no.  It’s quite cute and I stupidly bought twice as much yarn as needed dscn1290.JPG(requirements in 50 gr/skeins in 100 gr), so could make myself one if I cared to.  Right now I care for the yarn to live in stash as I’d like to finish Allen’s sweater (all pieces ready to join!…Dale helping blocked sleeves to dry!) and get on to Mom’s birthday vest.  Yeah, supposedly this year, but I sent flowers instead.  dscn1264.JPGdscn1291.JPGI have one more pair of socks promised and then I get to return to knitting for myself…or whomever has talked me into making something by then.  Vanessa is already hinting at socks.  [I am ready to oblige as if by always having something on the needles for her, she will stay alive.]  Once again, Dale as the ever steadfast and highly tolerant model.

Love, Jan

Yarnover, yarnunder, what the heck does this symbol mean?

Hey, Jan,

23.jpgThe annual Big Event of the MN Knitters’ Guild, Yarnover, has come and gone.  I took Japanese Knitting with Donna Druchuna, she of  Ethnic Knitting Discovery.  Awesome class.  I learned how to convert this

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to this

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.

.

.

And how to turn this

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into a full sweater.

The Japanese patterns are amazing.  A small block of text, a few schematics and maybe a stitch chart, and there it is, everything you need to knit a garment.  That they are all sized small or extra small means some adjustments are needed, but that is why knitting is good for your brain.  Ya gotta keep thinkin’.

12.jpgAnyway, it made for a very fun day, and yes, my brain is tired.  In 3 weeks and 10 minutes, my little girl will be walking down the aisle, so I think it is time I go concentrate on other things.  Like the sweater I am supposed to wear that is still no more than a peplum.  A very lovely peplum, but it needs a bit more, really.

Love,

Ellen

Skunked…

Hey,

You know that feeling when you are stubbornly plunging ahead on a sweater even though you know it is isn’t really right? That was definitely where I was with Blue Roses for the last week.  Monday night one of the knitters in my usual group looked over at what I was knitting and asked in a puzzled voice, “are you using two different yarns for that?”.  I had to admit, what looked like semi-matching dye lots in daylight really looked radically different under incandescents.  And under flourescents, not much better. Unless we lit the reception hall with halogen spotlights, I realized I was going to be in trouble.

22.jpg31.jpgSo – I decided I’d rather not finish than finish with a sweater I was a little embarrassed to wear.  I am frogging it all and have started over.  Maybe I’ll be done in time for the wedding, maybe not, but I have to admit  I feel So Much Better knitting it and knowing it is right that it is well worth it.  Here’s what I’ve knit so far.  I’m going with the original lace patterns for convenience.

This will be a little like reality TV with the suspense of whether or not I’ll finish.

11.jpgThe other skunk we’ve run into this week was at the Eloise Butler Wildflower garden where we take our Easter walk.  Skunk cabbage in full bloom!

Other than that, we had a wonderful dinner with Becky and Mike and got the first coat of paint on the last room to be remodeled before the wedding.  Not many weekends left, but we’re making progress…

Love,

Ellen

Passenger pigeon

Hi, Jan,

What a way to start the day.  Wilson and I were carpooling to work.  Our route takes us under a highway bridge.  As we passed underneath, a pigeon suddenly swooped down from a beam, flying right in front of our car.  I saw it coming, I saw traffic on both sides, I heard the thunk.  Ooooh!  And tumble, the pigeon’s limp body rolled right up the hood of our car and landed square in the middle of the windshield and stuck there.

It was simultaneously mortifying and hilarious – the traffic prevented us from stopping and removing it, the shock prevented me from thinking about trying the wipers to remove it, the pigeon was staring in at us with its dead eyes – and people are pointing at us and asking “What the…???!  why are those people driving around with a dead pigeon on their car?”.   Traffic was heavy enough that we had to drive the last block to work this way and then had to turn in to the headquarters of our large and dignified company and actually pull up to the door where I drop Wilson off.  There we rather unceremoniously bagged the bird (thank you, State of West Virginia, for your excellent, double-layer car trash bags) and deposited it in the trash can by the front door.

Neither of us saw our bosses during this transaction.  I guess it could have been worse.

Except, maybe, for the poor bird.

Stay safe, and watch the skies.

Love,

Ellen

Checking the calendar…

Hi, Jan,

1.jpgWe know the season is progressing because buds are swelling.  Pay no attention to that white stuff piled on top of them.

The sweater is progressing, too.  I had a few moments of angst when I realized you really can notice the difference in dye lots between the yarn I started with and the yarn I had to order.  I actually woke up this morning thinking about it, kinda blue (handpainted) about it.  The LYS owner actually asked about it when I ordered the yarn and I blithely tossed off “well, I’ll be incorporating it when I start a new pattern, I’m sure it will be fine.”  What was I thinking?

Here is what I’m thinking now:

  1. I had to start knitting with what I had or I never would have had a chance to finish the sweater before the wedding anyway.
  2. The MOB’s sweater is not the focal point of the wedding.
  3. If this  is my biggest worry at this point, I’m really in pretty good shape.

21.jpgThen I took out the sweater and in the cold morning light, you know, it didn’t look that bad.  Lot’s of progress yesterday, as I was working to clean out excess stuff in the house by getting a library book read so it could be returned.  (I typed that with a straight face.)  The waist ribbing is done, and I’m starting the lace upper body now, in a harebell pattern from Barbara Walker’s third book.

And that snow doesn’t look so bad either, especially with 50F predicted for Wednesday.

Have a great Sunday,

Love,

Ellen

The lull before the storm…

Hi, Jan,

I suppose I mean that literally and figuratively.  The weather service is predicting a blizzard tomorrow for parts SOUTH of us (gee, isn’t it spring in Iowa yet?), and we are to get snow on Sunday.  We tally snow here as ignorable, shovelable, and plowable. This batch is supposed to be the latter.

5.jpgOh, well, I need the time indoors to work on the house and on Blue Roses, if I want either one to be ready for the wedding.  I’m working on the waist ribbing now, but there is a lot more sweater to knit here.  At least now that I have an adequate supply of yarn I feel like I have a chance.  This photo shows the arc of the peplum as it curves up to the front button band.  You can see the manner of construction – ribbing back and forth and picking up one more band stitch with each row.

7.jpgMy other project, easier to manage in the car or waiting on line, is the Olive Liner.  It is a quick knit and so satisfying in Cascade 220 Superwash.  I love this so-called drab green color.  It actually has little flecks of gold in it that add a texture that is very nice.

3.jpgHere are the really beautiful stitch markers I ordered from Robin’s website.  Robin is our step-sister. She is making and selling jewelry with her own lampwork beads.  I don’t go in much for jewelry, but I did tell her I loved beautiful stitch markers so she converted some of the individual beads to really gorgeous markers.  If any of you are interested, she said she’d be happy to do the same for $1 per bead to cover materials and time.  No, not exactly cheap, but these are tiny pieces of art.  I feel calm looking at the swirls of turquoise in my markers.

2.jpgAnd I feel amused looking at the little turtle who sneaked in with them!

I hope your weekend is very amusing.

Love,

Ellen

P.S.  Cool court ruling in Iowa today.  Yay, Midwest!