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Archive for May, 2009

From Minnesota to Alaska…The Frozen North Tour Continues

Dear Ellen,

dscn1495.JPGI had barely a moment to catch my breath from the wedding before  I was off again, this time to use Anchorage, Alaska as a base for traveling around that state.  The trip was a whirlwind that was fabulous and exhausting.

Everywhere we went people thanked us for bringing the warm weather with us, but I explained that it was really just a hold over from the great weather Karen and Brandon had secured for their early May, evening garden wedding in Minnesota.  The Alaskans thought them terribly brave.

dscn1508.JPGdscn1528.JPGdscn1536.JPGWe spent a day in “base camp” and then headed out to King Salmon and Sparrevohn to visit two of our remote radar outposts.  The next day we were up  to Fort Richardson up north to see the dscn1523.JPGdscn1472.JPGground based interceptor fields (think mini-ICBM silos).  I won’t bore you with my tales of excitement regards crawling around radomes and up the pedestals of some really cool radars and going dscn1406.JPGover missile launch procedures…okay, okay, I see that look — the same one I get when Dale talks about motorcycles.  Instead I’ll share pictures from the flights to and from.  We flew near erupting volcanoes, down to landing strips carved into mountain sides, over glaciers and near steam vents.  All WAY cool!  (How did that radar sneak in there??)

dscn1453.JPGAnd the people we met were fabulous.  At Sparrevohn the site is routinely manned by only four folks for 24X7 operations and they do it with incredible dedication with no way in or out except via that tiny, impossible gravel runway.  You have to be a special breed — a lover of outdoors, a survivalist, a technician, a heavy machinery operator…you have to be brave and you have to really like yourself!

dscn1557.JPGWhile on the trip I saw two mighty moose (mighty meese??)…but I did not see a grizzly bear.  My friend Marty saw a moose, a brown bear and a fox — all on the same evening drive, but still no grizzly bear.  We did see the salmon runs where the grizzlies often feast, but still no grizzly.  I’m glad I’m back in Colorado where grizzly sighting seems far more common.

I did get some knitting accomplished…Vanessa’s socks are now about 80% done and will be off the needles soon.  I had to mix in school work — I’m in a class and have got to finish the last two assignments before time runs out the 24th, so knitting time was a bit at a dscn1558.JPGpremium.  And I did get at least one cuff on my Sock Wars IV socks, so if I’m killed my assassin will get something partially completed.  I did figure out that by signing up late I may have inadvertently executed a good strategy…those really eager beavers who stay up all night to finish in the first 48 hours of competition are also those who sign up as soon as registration opens…and guess what?  It looks like you are paired against targets in order of registration, so my assassin is one of the last to sign up.  I can only hope.  Oh!  Wait a minute…I thought I wasn’t in this to actually kill anyone…I just wanted more handknit socks.  Guess I was kidding myself or perhaps the excitement of the radars got my bloodlust running.

Gotta go…early morning will be coming tomorrow!

Love, Jan

All Wedding Pictures, All the Time

Dear Ellen,

A smattering of photos from my little digital.  I hope it satisfies interest till you get the formal pictures back!

dscn1321.JPG14.jpgdscn1320.JPGWedding preparations were truly a family affair.  Here you can see that Helen (Wilson’s mom — ergo Ellen’s mom-in-law and Karen’s grandma) sewed the unique button strip (button through both layers of the sweater wherever it makes sense.  The buttons were attached to a length of grossgrain.  I was busy seaming pieces together dscn1314.JPG21.jpgand Ellen was busy knitting cuffs.  Jenny jumped in later in the evening and helped finish everything up. The two days before the wedding were marked by a stream of helpful well-wishers and Ellen’s house was full to the gills at most moments!  Paula and Patty helped with an assortment of tasks and the bridesmaids jumped in to give a last steam block to the veil.

dscn1335.JPGdscn1333.JPGdscn1341.JPGdscn1328.JPGWes and Kris threw a fabulous rehearsal dinner at which I got to see all of my kids dress up.  You could barely hear yourself think over all of the voices that were in full chatter-mode the entire time.  Karen presented Patty with a handknit prayer shawl to thank her for agreeing to officiate at the wedding.  Aren’t Ellen and Wilson cute?
31.jpgThe wedding itself was spectacular.  It was set outside at a local community center with a beautiful garden.  I got a quick chance to congratulate Ellen just before the ceremony…look, the sweater is done!!  🙂  Patty performed her office with aplomb.  She set the perfect mood without saying a word.  4.jpgdscn1354.JPG5.jpgdscn1361.JPGThe bridesmaids all came in and looked beautiful, but a bit chilly!  And then Ellen and Wilson escorted their radiant daughter down the aisle.  Look at those faces — don’t you think they look pretty 6.jpgdarned pleased?  (And a sweater to die for, at that!!)  The wedding then proceeded as weddings do — with some tearing eyes and dabbing of handkerchiefs…notably by the bride herself.  Brandon was quite gallant in providing her with said dabbing device.  The  ceremony included a very touching and dscn1363.JPGdscn1367.JPGdscn1371.JPGdscn1373.JPGfunny reading of “I Like You” by Neil, Wilson’s dad (ergo Ellen’s dad-in-law and Karen’s…wait, I’m sure you can figure it out.)  The best 7.jpgpart was when he winked at Helen.  Songs were sung, vows were made and certificates were signed.  Patty declared that in the power vested in her by Hennepin County, they were a married couple.  She even let Brandon seal the deal with a kiss — but I was too busy with my own handkerchief to catch that photo.  I love the look on their faces as they came back down the aisle — you can just see how happy they are.

dscn1380.JPGdscn1384.JPGAfter a quasi-receiving line, the reception was held just inside.  It was great…Eloise (our mom) had a lovely time — her she is with Patty.  I’m betting that the fun of this event made dscn1382.JPGdscn1386.JPGher wish she could have been able to travel for Marie’s wedding too.  There was great cake — sinful.  It had layers of chocolate and vanilla — very dense and moist.  The chocolate had a raspberry mousse filling and the vanilla had an amaretto filling.  But the icing was what really made it — real buttercream made with real butter…from a bakery named “Buttercream”.  Yeah, that good.  dscn1392.JPGdscn1391.JPGdscn1390.JPGFortunately, there was also great dancing to help burn off the several thousand calories of wedding cake calories that I probably personally consumed.  There’s Dale about to catch Jenny.  And look at Allen getting down with his bad ole self!  The dance floor was filled till the very end of the night and they had to chase us out.  What a fabulous reason to be together and an amazing weekend.

I love my family.  I love you too…


More wedding knitting

Hi, Jan,

I’m still reliving the wedding via photos, which are cropping up all over the web.  Between your Picasa albums and all of Karen and Brandon’s friends on Facebook, there are a remarkable number of images of the happy couple.

Given that this is a knitting blog, I thought I’d quickly review the fun of the week then focus on the knitterly stuff.

  • Monday – K & B arrive and Karen and I go to knitting group where I worked on my wedding jacket sleeves – not the caps yet, just the sleeves.  Karen J graciously cast on the cuffs for me.
  • Tuesday – Still going to work, but ended the day with a fresh haircut and then fed K&B a dinner of something like mustard and olives – trying to clear out the refrigerator so there would be room for wedding food.
  • Wednesday – B’s folks and W’s folks arrive and we dine out at the wonderful Restaurant Alma.  No more mustard and olives as entrees!  W & B earned a nice meal by waiting patiently as Karen and I shopped for foundation garments.  Amy arrives, too, starting the happy invasion of bridesmaids.
  • Thursday – Amy and Helen and I plant 16 centerpieces – mimulus and pansies and alyssum.  Rehearsal – Patty assures us we needn’t worry that the forecast for Saturday is rain: “I’ve got that taken care of.”  Because it is Patty, I believe her and we return home and throw a burrito bash for all the friends and family in town so far.
  • Friday – More bridesmaids, we wait for the last of the flowers to arrive.  Sadly, they are lost in Philly so Patty and I make a Costco run where -yay!- they have hydrangeas in the right color.  Laura and Kristen fill time by helping block the wedding veil.  Rehearsal dinner is followed by a fun gathering for the young people and a late night corsage session for me.  It really did help me sleep to know I was well down the road to having the flowers done.
  • Saturday – Up early to get cranking on boutonierres and then when the bridesmaids awaken on to a bouquet bee.  What fun watching the buzz of activity with everyone cranking out bouquets and Merry lacing the veil to the headpiece.  Marissa took charge of ribbon wrapping, Marie was at my side with encouraging words throughout the day, Lindsay’s sweet temperament kept us all charmed, Margaret and Rachel and Lauren were flower wranglers – wow!  Oh, and then there was the wedding!

14.jpgHere is a shot of the wedding jacket in progress.  Helen had sewn the button ribbon, you were setting in a sleeve, Karen had knit some of that blasted daisy chain, and I was getting into the cuffs.  I think this was on Thursday.  On Friday Jenny did some of the neck edging daisy chain and repaired a dropped stitch on a cuff.  I’m glad I raised knitters!

21.jpgLaura and Kristen are both knitters and their help blocking the veil made it go very quickly indeed.  Steam blocking is so fast and effective.

31.jpgI finished the wedding jacket while we were getting our hair done – knitting the entire way through my hair appointment and casting off during Karen’s.  Just in time for pictures.  You looked pretty smash in your Clapotis, too.  (Kristen was working a Clapotis at our house, too!)

4.jpgKaren had knit Patty a lovely stole out of Malibrigo lace.  And Patty wore it with such grace.

5.jpgTime to walk down the aisle.  Jenny wasn’t wearing any knitting, but she is a knitter, and this was just too cute of a picture of her.

6.jpgWhat a joy.

7.jpgAnd even more.  So many smiles and laughs during this wedding.  I hope I never forget the day – the green of spring, the cottonwood DNA floating out of the trees, the birds singing, the sun bursting forth as Karen stepped into the aisle to Here Comes the Sun, the touching and funny reading by Neil, Patty’s service which poured forth her faith at the same time that it welcomed all others…so many loved ones together sharing joy.

Blessed be,



Hi, Jan,

Yup, it was wonderful.  This week was so full of joy and fun and hard work and sharing.  Thanks for helping me finish my sweater for the wedding – between you setting in a sleeve and Karen and Jenny both working on daisy chain portions and Karen J casting on the cuffs and Helen sewing the button band it sure took a village, but we got it done.   I don’t have a finished picture of me in it at the wedding on my camera, so will have to wait for yours or the official wedding shots to get one posted, but the results sure made me happy.

12.jpgAs did this…




13.jpgand this.

I hope to hear soon that you are home safe, and that everyone else is, too.



If I round up, I still have a day and a half to finish…

Not much left – 12 rows of cuff and 5 rows of edging around the neck.  If only that didn’t included another set of daisy chain…

Sweater update at t-4 days and counting…

Hi, Jan,

11.jpgI’m not quite done yet.  Well, I’m not really all that close.  But still close enough that it seems possible so I have to keep trying.  Here are the pieces.  The sleeves are knit to the cast off for the caps.  So gratifying to suddenly decrease away a significant portion of the row.  And that squiggly stuff on the other circular needle – those are the cuffs.  Karen J ran out of yarn at knitting group last night, and she graciously offered her skills up and got the cuffs cast on and set up with markers for knitting the lacework.

Knitting group was delightful, by the way.  It was so much fun to have our Karen along.  Plus sweet Peggy offered up the loan of a lot of plates and cups for some of the family gatherings surrounding the wedding.  I’m happy to avoid buying a huge amount of paper goods.

See you soon!


New Beginnings

Dear Ellen,

The rest of the supplies for the favors I’m putting together for Karen and Brandon’s wedding arrived this past week, so new beginnings are on the mind…not just knitterly ones, but life ones as well as I look forward to being part of their newdscn1299.JPG beginning.  I will finish the favors today, but the knitting will take longer.

I ordered one of those bulb baskets from Plow and Hearth to bring inside some of the reawakening going on outside…a bit too late in the season I think.  The bulbs were already well dscn1303.JPGsprouted and not in very nice shape when I opened the box.   Pretty sad looking.  A few days of breathing and sunlight helped a lot, but it’s still a ragged looking bunch.  I considered contacting P&H to request a refund, but I had to admit I had rather taken a liking to these determined, if disheveled, guys.  And since lately I feel a lot like they look, I decided to just nurse them along and see how they do.  I don’t think I’d want anyone returning me to sender.

dscn1301.JPGdscn1307.JPGIn the area of other new beginnings, I have gotten two projects underway and have sorted out yarn choices for four others.  First are the “Fishtail Fantasy Socks” which I am making for Vanessa.  They have a fun construction — top down,  dscn1309.JPGdscn1307.JPG  but from a cuff that is knit on the vertical — that is, you knit a strip of garter stitch which you graft together into a ring, pick up stitches and then work down.  They have garter stitch short row heels and a spiral toe.  Not sure I like the spiral toe.  It looks like it would feel uncomfortable in a shoe.  That may not be an issue for Vx though.  She is not doing well right now…is hitting the bedridden stage and even said she is too weak to talk on the phone today.  I’ll be working on these in Minnetonka, so you can see them firsthand in a few days.  I’ve promised not to worry…too much.
dscn1302.JPGdscn1305.JPGI also cast on for a design of my own that I’m calling Simple Cables.  It’s for Mom, therefore the blue colorway.  Very simple design…worked bottom up, split at the armholes, with armscye and neckline shaping and a three needle bind off.  Button bands and edgings are knit in as you go.  Yeah, yeah, I should really put some of these down on paper and publish them before I move on, but where’s the fun in that.

As for the other 4 projects — Einstein Coat, Luna Moth Shawl, Thai Pullover and Sock Wars.  See Ravelry.  My strategy on sock wars will be to receive a pair of handknit socks and send off a cast on pair of hand knit socks.  I’m not in it to win it.  🙂

Love, Jan

5K’s and marathons

Hey, Sis,

Wilson and I ran a 5K this morning and I’m about to start a marathon.  Yup, a knitting marathon.

3.jpgThe body of the sweater is done.  That alone is encouraging, but I am rather tickled with how it turned out.  Some credit is due the yarn, which is sproingy and dyed beautifully, some is due the pattern, and some is due me.  I am so happy I frogged the half knit body (not so proud it too me so long to make that decision) and am happy with my size modifications and how it fits.  This picture is inside out and basted together with circular needles, so it will only get better.

As for the 5K – I met my goal of running under 35 minutes and W met his of running under 24.  Again, he finished before all of his teammates, some of whom may be half his age, but they are closing the gap.  So we’ll be training hard next year.  You have to have something to look forward to, right?

See you soon!