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Archive for June, 2009


Would You Like a Tissue?

Dear Ellen,

dscn1717.JPGdscn1718.JPGI should be working on sorting and packing, but I’m so pleased with how Fichu, Gesundheit turned out that I had to post.  I’ll be delicately packaging it later today and putting it in the mail to Vanessa.  I expect it will call for a lot of tissues, now and when she receives it.

dscn1715.JPGdscn1716.JPGWhile wearing it, it is just like a whisper around your shoulders.  The alpaca fiber is so light and yet it yields a delicious warmth…just enough and not too much.  This was both a frustration and a joy to knit.  The pattern is challenging and keeps you on your toes, the result is fabulous.  The amount of tinking and frogging could probably have yielded a second one.  I do think I have to take credit for the amount of rework.  It just doesn’t pay to work lace when your tired and stressed.

dscn1705.JPGI’m so glad to have more on the needles as I finish this…the result just makes me want to knit more!  I think the Sargasso Sea Shell will finish soon too.  Here I’m just 4 rounds below the scyes.

Gotta go work on some moving related stuff…after some coffee and a few rounds on the shell!

Love, Jan

Quickies

Dear Ellen,

I thought our spam was getting a bit tame, so thought I’d try out the above title for this post.  Actually, it’s quite accurate…three quick bits for you and our readers.

First, why didn’t I think of it before??  I started using a 000 circular needle for my lifeline on Fichu, Gesundheit and it is fantastic!  So easy to slide in and easy to pick up the stitches if I have to use it.  Don’t ask why I know this.

Second, while I’m making good progress on moving preparations, it sure is lonely with Dale gone.  In case you didn’t recall, he left earlier this week to meet friends Alan and Kathleen in spot-shared-page-mozilla-firefox-6282009-85855-pm.jpgBermuda to help them sail their boat Crackerjack to Newport, RI.  Crackerjack came in 5th in class and 12th overall on the run to Bermuda (Newport-Bermuda Race 2009) and the race crew is enjoying the beaches.  After a day of re-stowing everything and drying out sails after some hairy weather, Dale, Alan, Kathleen and another guy got back underway earlier today.  Here’s exactly where he is as I make this post.

dscn1697.JPGFinally, I cast on my Sargasso Sea Shell the night before Dale left for his sailing adventure in the Atlantic.  He won’t be anywhere near the Sargasso Seas, but it’s also an expression for being in the doldrums…no air. And you need air for sailing. I want him home quickly and safely, so knitting this while he’s gone is a bit of a good luck charm.  Also, Vanessa often recommends breathing deeply as air is good for us too.  Big needles, big yarn (the silk, cotton, rayon from Estes Park!) and lots more progress since this was taken.  I’ll be done before he arrives home for sure.

Love, Jan

I’d be embarrassed…

23.jpg …if I weren’t feeling so gleeful.  A  knitter in our work club with connections to a LYS had a garage sale to benefit the Breast Cancer 3 Day event.  So – fabulous yarn at deep, deep discount and all proceeds are going straight to breast cancer research.  Financial barrier lowered, guilt barrier lowered, it didn’t take much of a leap.  I bought a smidgen for my ladies to eradicate the last bits of guilt, and you see the result.

13.jpgAnother little thing that I’m feeling happy about are my little stitch markers made from some crystals in colors that just insisted on coming home with me back when we were shopping for beads for Karen’s veil.  Maybe a couple of these will find their way to DC.

Love,

Ellen

At the peak…

Dear Jan,

You and Dale have been climbing your own peaks lately (Dale – a marathon on Pike’s Peak, really?  And when do you get that second star?).  My personal peak has been more subtle; I’m grateful I didn’t pass over it without stopping to notice the summit.

12.jpgI’m talking about Summer Solstice or Midsummer or Litha, whatever you prefer. I marked the holiday by sleeping out in the backyard, and woke to a beautiful planet in the first dawn of summer. I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of melancholy, for the days will now shorten, in tiny bits that aren’t noticeable at first, but by late August the angle of light will be telling.   Just last weekend I picked our first alpine strawberries and already I have to face that winter is coming.

51.jpgI suppose I could despair, but instead I will hold this as a reminder to relish the warm, bright days ahead.  The  garden is reaching that lovely state of anticipation as we start picking a few things, radishes, herbs, greens, and can see that tomatoes and eggplants are setting fruit and it will be a bumper crop of cherries.  42.jpg33.jpgI am so enjoying the wedding flowers, so glad we went this route and that I get to be reminded of a loving event every time I walk out my door.

The red winged blackbirds must be fledging their young now.  Groups of juveniles are appearing at our feeder, sticking together for safety and landing with the charming awkwardness and eagerness that teenagers of other species share.  Then they poop on the deck, which in its own way reminds me of teenagers of other species, but I’m still happy to have had them all.

9.jpgI don’t have much notable knitting to share – the onesy progresses but doesn’t look much different than last photo (though I knit on it quite awhile in the dark last night, which was so peaceful).  I’m about to the scyes on the shell and the fabric remains enchanting to me.  Here is a shot of the wrong side, though it is so pretty I hate to call it that.

I hope your rush of the last few days of your Colorado assignment doesn’t keep you from enjoying this beautiful summer.

Love,

Ellen

Madsen…We both want you…

Dear Ellen,

But I linked first.

MADSEN Cargo Bikes

Love, Jan

Knitting jalapeños

Hi, Jan,

Sorry I’ve been out of touch a bit.  I traveled to Guelph (about an hour west of Toronto) for work last week, and between that and several special initiatives with June deadlines and the fact that it is performance appraisal time (I write and deliver 10, and I take it seriously), I have found scant blogging leisure.

11.jpgI did find some knitterati, though.  Susan, a friend via my work network and I dashed into the city to meet her stepdaughter, J, for dinner.  We also made sure to see some yarn.   Susan had a couple of suggestions, one being the Naked Sheep.  I was delighted to see that my buddy Annie was  teaching that night!  I knew she was on an extended teaching tour but hadn’t put together that we’d be in the same city at the same time.   Toronto traffic did us wrong and I only had time to run in and hug her quick before we had to go meet J, but it was so fun to see Annie’s look of surprise and, I think, delight.

22.jpgDinner with J was delightful and we lingered over Tibetan momos.  It left us barely enough time to stop by Lettuce Knit for a chance to knit with some of the luminaries of our knitting era.  Somewhere in this blur you might be able to spot S P-M‘s curly hair and back in the corner, but out of sight, I think, is SW of Knitting Daily.  I was a bit of a nervous dolt, and I probably seemed ridiculous, simultaneously trying to be nonchalant yet obviously being so danged chalant it was freakish.  Still, the shop staff was totally welcoming and charming.  I need to cure myself of being a knitting groupie – it isn’t self-respect building, really. And it probably intrudes on people’s private space.  I should stick with those I know and love, like Annie, and all the rest of my hometown knitting gang.

5.jpgDuring all of this, I have managed to make a little progress on the onesie I started about 2 weeks ago.  It is going quickly enough, showing signs of what it will be when it is all grown, though not rapid-fire. It is neither a long term project nor a quickie.

41.jpg32.jpgTomatoes are my long term garden projects this summer, and I have a few radishes that are coming right along and should be ready in a week or so.  But for mid-range, I grow  jalapeños – you can see what they are going to be very early, and you don’t have to wait forever for them to ripen. A lot like the onesie, I think this one could be ready in just a few more weeks.

Love,

Ellen

Estes Park Wool and Fiber….and Alpaca too!

Dear Ellen,

dscn1643.JPGdscn1639.JPGdscn1634.JPGdscn1631.JPGdscn1629.JPGdscn1624.JPGWow…what a week last week.  Lots in the achievement colum work-wise, so that left me in a great mood at the end of the week.  Taking advantage of that mindset, I jumped in Bobbie (the blue CooperS), grabbed my friend Heidi and zoomed up to Estes Park.  The purpose of this journey was to visit the Estes Park Wool and Fiber Festival.  I was immediately swept back to 4-H days as soon as I stepped into the first animal tent.  Great smells, great sounds, and that calming effect that comes from being surrounded by animals.  I came away with many great memories.  Enjoy!  (Don’t you love the one alpaca whispering into the other alpaca’s ear?  The sheep were….well, sheep.  They didn’t seem to realize the big role they played in the weekend event.  Nor did they really seem to care.  The alpaca and vicuna were absolutely lovely!

dscn1655.JPGdscn1647.JPGdscn1648.JPGWe spent a good deal of our time in the vendor building where I bought yarn for a shell (golden wool and bamboo), a cardigan (variegated wool with tonal blue wool trim), a shell (dark teal and pale spring green strands of silk, dscn1656.JPGdscn1651.JPGcotton and rayon), a scarf (turquoise alpaca) and a smoke ring (rich, rich dark chocolate pure vicuna — darker than shown, I added fill light so you could see the strands).   I also scored an alpaca pin, a hand-turned orifice hook, two hand-turned dpn cases, a booklet on making felted Christmas tree ornaments, and a few freebie dscn1650.JPGdscn1657.JPGdscn1658.JPGpatterns…met the designer, a very nice young woman.  Finally, I bought cinnamon roasted almonds for Dale.  I wouldn’t want him to think I hadn’t thought about him.  I did consider some Colorado dscn1646.JPGCashmere for a possible sweater, but he’s still too lukewarm about me making a sweater for him that I decided not to invest the dollars or time knitting cashmere on size 3s till he shows more commitment.  The almonds will have to do for now!

dscn1660.JPGI did make some more progress on the Robin’s Egg Vest…at the armscyes now and must make some design decisions (yes, I charged into this with a concept, not the details).  I do have a rather impressive swath of lower vest though!  And I’ve made about 4 more repeats on the fichu for Vanessa.  Do you like dscn1664.JPGdscn1661.JPGthe fancy weights I used to spread the pattern a bit so you could see the lace? With that, I’m off to do another pattern repeat on the fichu and then to bed.  Let me know if you figure out how to stop the world for a while.  I have so much to get done by mid-July and I could use some time cheats.

Love, Jan

P.S. I almost forgot to post…remember my wank about the bulb collection that I ordered from Plow and Hearth?  Well, they actually read the post, contacted me and made me feel very valued as a customer.  I am now in the process of trying to decide what I would like to order using the gift card they sent me as amends for my disappointment.  What great customer service!

Muscle Relaxers and Lace Knitting

Dear Ellen,

You knew from the title that this post would contain some very bad judgment.  It does.

dscn1609.JPGFor some reason I decided that working on Fichu, Gesundheit — the next Vanessa project — would be  a great way to fill time while I was nursing a bad shoulder spasm that started last Thursday.  Yes, I was taking flexeril(tm) and trying to keep my left arm immobilized, but that didn’t stop me.  As the photo shows, I did finally make some progress, but it was only after roughly 8 hours or knitting, tinking, frogging and more knitting.  When I finally realized I was misinterpreting a chart symbol it went a lot better.  MAYBE this could have worked had I already done a few repeats of the pattern, but I had only done the garter stitch neckband and hadn’t even studied the chart.  Oh, wait…studying the chart.  I suppose that might have helped too.  I can report that today the shoulder is much better and when I finish here, I plan on doing another repeat…with a clear head.  I hope the foregoing builds your sense of confidence in our senior military leaders.

dscn1615.JPGdscn1616.JPGA very sensible person would have picked one of the other projects already underway.  For instance, I’ve only gotten about 4 inches into the skirt part of A Stitch Away From Genius — hours to go before I’d have to think of anything other than remembering to dscn1614.JPGslip the first stitch of each row.  And the Robin’s Egg Vest is at point where I can do it pretty much without thinking.  Cinnamon Tee takes some counting to keep track of when to decrease for the fitting, but other than that it’s stockinette…so with so many better options, what the heck was I thinking?  I guess I just needed a challenge…and I had not a bit of sense in between my ears at the time.

dscn1608.JPGdscn1613.JPGAnd evidently, I’m not done with the startitis.  I’ve got this lovely Alpaca from gentle Narcissus of Table Rock Llamas — she’s not pictured on their web site as she’s not for sale.  With it I intend to make Not So Naive with the “Ingenue” pattern in Custom Knits.  It is a great boatneck sweater with a quasi-standup “portrait” collar.  And I’ve committed to make one of two pair of booties for one of the young Lieutenants who has done so much for women in the Navy (including getting the senior Navy women organized on Facebook!) and is now expecting twins.  I’m calling them Hopeful Booties as her first name is Hope. I’m using the Baby Life Ring Booties Pattern from Cat Bordhi’s Magical Knitting site.

Perhaps the muscle relaxers are still affecting me…I do have to be ready to move in less than a month and I’m going to start more projects?!

With that thought in mind, I think I’ll go knit.

Love, Jan

P.S. I was very busy the last two weeks of silence…several trips and mandatory fun.  No need to bore you with it!

What a relief!

Hi, Jan,

Yesterday brought a long soaking rain, starting mid-morning and lasting the entire day and well into the night.  I could almost hear the trees and plants sighing with relief.  We hadn’t had rain to speak of for about 3 weeks and had actually been short on rain for over a year.  Winter snows don’t help much because they melt when the ground is frozen and don’t tend to soak in.  I doubt we have overcome our shortfall, but it certainly had to help.

1.jpgI had spent Friday night drinking a little too much wine with a friend whose position had been eliminated (we believe there is something else going on here, but aren’t sure quite what as our company had a very good year) so I used the rainy day as an excuse to mostly knit.  I am making progress on Rhythm and Blues and am enchanted by the way the colors play off each other.

21.jpgAnd there seem to be several severe cases of startitis going on around the blogosphere – I have caught one, too.  Late yesterday evening I cast on for a really cute onesy pattern from Shibui yarn, in the yarn called for.  This stuff is as much fun to knit as the Claudia handpaint that my wedding cardigan was knit from.  The twist is so tight it is almost perpendicular on the yarn, so it is exceptionally springy, and the fiber is so very soft.  A nice alternative to the cotton shell.

31.jpgSpeaking of the wedding cardi, look what arrived in the mail on Saturday.  Yes, I was planning to enter it in the fair.  But you know what, I don’t think I  can.  It wasn’t all my work!  I laughed when I realized this – I think I have a sure-fire winner,  but even though the contribution of each person was small, I can not deny that it was a group project.  As that is one of the things I love about it best, it is a clear-cut decision for me.  Without the help I wouldn’t have had it for the wedding, and that was certainly the best win of all.

Don’t worry, I have other items for the fair, including the veil.

Today I need to buckle down and write performance appraisals, lest someone think my position needs to be eliminated, but don’t worry, I’ll sneak a few more rows in.

Love,

Ellen

Mondays aren’t all bad…

Hi, Jan,

3.jpgWhile you are out there galavantin’ around the country, I stayed safe at home and had my knitting group over for a lovely June evening.  We laughed loud and long, but I don’t think the neighbors reported us.

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2.jpgOf note, Karen’s tremendous progress on her Sideways Spencer Redux…

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4.jpgand Eryka’s self designed shawl in moss stitch with crochet edging.  You are correct, that is not Eryka modeling.  It is Peggy, and we were a bit worried blood would flow as she certainly showed no signs of willingness to return it.

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8.jpgI made a little progress on Rhythm and Blues.  It is very entertaining to watch what these colors do next to each other.

Safe travels to you,

Love,

Ellen