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

Archive for August, 2009


Stumped!

Hi, Jan,

I promised a discussion of the toe up heel class taught by Chrissy Gardiner last week at The Yarnery.  I finally managed to finish the last heel stump (sounds gory, but no socks were harmed in the writing of this post) so here it is.

110.jpgThe class is based on Chrissy’s book, Toe Up!   This is a solid book that describes a number of techniques for toe up heels and toes with a little binding off and casting on thrown in.  Perhaps not the Rosetta stone of sock techniques, but more than adequate, and Chrissy is a pleasant teacher who throws in lots of extra bits of advice won from lots of sock knitting experience.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t need the class to learn what it taught - it’s all there in the book - but I did need the class to make me do the exercise of knitting 3 different stumps and learning the stuff.  The idea is you will try on your stumps and pick the fit you like the best, but honestly, the worsted weight yarn made the fit weird, so I don’t quite buy that.

44.jpgChrissy’s short row heel is a bit different from standard ones - she wraps in the opposite direction and picks up the wraps with a twist.  I think it helps eliminate holes.  That said, still not a fan of short row heels - look at how they distort the tube of the sock.  To me that says poor fit in the ankles.  (Maybe there is something to this heel stump fitting, after all.)

33.jpgThe afterthought heel is just as usual.  I’m glad the class forced me to knit one - it does fit  my pointy heel pretty darn well, but I’m afraid I find it fiddly and why would you actually ask for two more ends to weave in?

25.jpgFinally we have the hybrid - a blend of short row to turn the heel and then a gusset.  I do love me a gusset.  This one is worth experimenting with in sock yarn, I think, especially as we ran out of time and so short-changed our gusset length.  But look at the tube of knitting at the ankle - near horizontal!  A couple more gusset increases and I bet we would have been there.

111.jpgTwo biggies that I take away from the class - first, a better understanding of how to calculate when to start short row heels and/or gussets (Chrissy’s book has nice worksheets that lay out the calculation).  And  second, a super-easy stretchy bind off.  You throw a yarnover in between stitches and pass it over the new stitch along with the previous one.  It makes a nice little braid along the edge and is very stretchy indeed.  Not as slick as a tubular bind off, but way faster.  I used the bind off on the collar of the Onesy Twosy which has already been delivered to its target baby.

64.jpgAm I getting tired of socks?  Not exactly, but I am finding it great fun to start up my next project.

I hope you get some good knitting time in on all of your travel this week.  I know you’ll be writing that speech in your head as you knit, so I’m not worried about that at all.

Love,

Ellen

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Wisdom for Those Around Whom We Exist

Dear Ellen,

dscn1928.JPGI went to Colorado and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.  Actually, it’s quite a nice t-shirt and was a gift from my former secretary.  She said it had my name written all over it, but I still haven’t found any errant ink marks.  The ceremony for which I went out there was superb.  I retired my former directorate Sergeant Major, a wonderful man and a terrific leader and mentor.  The attendance was better than I’ve seen for many generals.  Heritage, tradition and emotion were everywhere you looked.  It helped me remember why I’m doing what I’m doing…and it reminded me that my day isn’t that far off.  It’s only a temp job.

I did do some knitting during the flights.  The desert skies socks are near completion, but the camera and the socks never met up.  You’ll have to wait till later in the week (who am I kidding, it’s going to be next weekend!) to see photos.  I need to pick out some more yarn to travel with me as I’ll certainly finish them on my way to San Diego tomorrow afternoon.  I guess I should spend some of that time writing the speech I’m meant to give, but I’d really rather be knitting.

Congratulations again on the recognition of your masterful knitting.  I’m proud to be twinsetellen’s alter ego!

Love, Jan

Do we have some Swedish in our background?

Hey, Sis,

15.jpgDid I lose track of our heritage?  Any reason I would be channeling Swedish?  I ask because, gee whiz!, my Deep Into the Forest Bohus reproduction won the American Swedish Institute award at the State Fair for best example of this Swedish art. I was so tickled, especially as the competition was really outstanding.  There was a lovely example of The Swan and several other sweaters and hats and mitts.   The sweater also won a first place ribbon in the “Cardigan - Limited Colorwork” category.  My first MN State Fair first!

23.jpgAnother nice result - my little Shibui Onesy placed third, which was a pleasant surprise.  The collar really was bound off too tightly (but I’ll take that ribbon, thank you very much).

On the other hand, Karen’s veil didn’t even place.  Supportive friends expressed amazement, but I felt like I’d let Karen down somehow.  I wonder if the judges thought I was trying to trick the system by entering it as “not otherwise specified - wearable” instead of entering it in the very competitive shawls category.  But I would have blocked it differently for that category and it was meant to be a veil, so I didn’t think I was gaming the system at all.

19.jpgOh, well, maybe this is life telling me that there was an entirely satisfying amount of joy from the veil already.   I have to agree, now that a day or two have passed.  Would a picture of the veil without Karen under it but with a blue ribbons make me more happy than this one?  Not even close.

I didn’t spend much time at the fair this year, volunteered at the MN Knitters’ Guild booth and then did a couple of hours of touring about, but I always have to catch the crop art.  It is as kitsch, and as political, as can be.  I love biting satire expressed in millet.  My all-time favorite is “Curious George Searches for Weapons of Mass Destruction”, but this year’s “Michelle’s Precious Moments” was pretty darn good.32.jpg 43.jpg 52.jpgLaura  Melnick captured some of the most priceless Michelle Bachman (our local crazy congresswoman) quotes and paired them with the treacly innocence of Precious Moments sculptures. By the way, these are actual references from Michelle.  You can’t make this stuff up.

73.jpgI feel the pull of the fair from our house, but I don’t push my luck by trying to get Wilson to go more than once every few years.  That is one of the secrets of our happy marriage, which hits 58 years (29 each) tomorrow.  Once again, the universe is providing me with plenty of joy.

62.jpgOne more bit of crop art joy for you.  Not political, but just amuses the heck out of me.  Have a great weekend.

Love,

Ellen

A Deep Breath Before the Next Week Starts

Dear Ellen,

Sunday afternoon or evening is often when I carve out the time to post about activities in general and activities in knitting.  The act of slowing myself down enough to capture some thoughts for public consumption is calming even when I feel there are more urgent items on my to-do list.  More and more I feel like it is my chance to take a deep cleansing breath before I dive into the insanity to come.  And then the act of knitting (which I do try to squeeze in daily, even if only for 10 minutes) is my lifeline that will pull me back to the surface in time to get another breath.  I’m so glad we started this blog!  And believe it or not, our two year anniversary is in just over a month!  I’m going to try to read some of our old posts to get some perspective on from whence we’ve come….and maybe thoughts on to where we might decide to head next.

This last week really was one of insanity.  The new boss is finally on board and he seems to have the notion that he’s in charge.  I’ll have to disabuse him of that quickly.  I’ll talk to his wife.  He’s a pretty good guy, but the “new boss” period is always stressful.  dscn1926.JPGdscn1925.JPGIt was also stressful to frog all of what I had accomplished on the right front of my Einstein jacket (A Stitch Away from Genius).  I have screwed around with the pattern due to the gauge yielded by the bulky alpaca I’m using and I decided I got it wrong after about 3 inches.  Here you see a new scant inch where I modified…and added mini box pleats to account for the fact that I’m severely pear shaped.  Now I think I want to frog this and do it once again adding a few more pleats or to change them to distributed decreases.  I don’t know I’ll leave it aside for a few days.

Saturday we drove to Quarryville (where our property is) and bought some stuff from an Amish guy named John.  He and his brother do custom furniture and sheds and we bought both.  We had decided that for our anniversary we would get furniture for the deck here…a bistro set since a full patio set would be too large.  Looking at John’s stuff I got the notion that we might just enjoy the beautiful spruce glider chairs better…most excellent lumbar support.  Dale fairly quickly agreed and we ordered two and an end table.  We had gone in to order a shed for the property.  We did get that too…a very nice one with room for storing the tools we’ll be using to clear paths and landscaping and to keep camping gear between visits.  I’m looking forward to our first night on the property…but not till we acquire some suitable gear!  We did some work too…cleared the 12X12 foot area (of course cleared more than that) at the edge of the woods on which the shed will sit.  dscn1927.JPGAnd we cleared debris and brush from where the entrance had become overgrown and obstructed over time.  I felt we had very much earned our stop at Maplehof’s Dairy where we had sinfully delicious ice cream cones.  On the way up I studied.  On the way back I got the second of the Desert Skies Socks started.

Today I woke early, managed to find a means to fall back to sleep and then wasn’t out of bed till 11:30AM.  Even so, I am ready to go to bed now.  I did do some more work in my office — arranging, unpacking and doing homework.  It was a very good weekend and with this deep breath, I feel like I can face the coming week.

Love, Jan

The Story of Seven Pings

Dear Jan,

14.jpgHere is a short story for you.  Ping.  Ping - ping.  Ping.  Ping- ping.  Ping.  With that last one, the story ends happily.

The first ping of the season is the one that thrills*.  There is no way to know if it was a jar of dill pickles, dilly beans, or the pickled beets that sounded it as the vacuum building in the cooling jar pulled the lid concave.  Doesn’t matter once you hear all seven.

31.jpg22.jpg42.jpgOther things that are going on here include progress on my world record breaking knitting, a Noro scarf (that may become something else, watch here for updates), the Onesy Twosy (which ideally I’d finish today, block and sew on buttons etc so I can give it as a baby gift on Monday), brainless knitting on my ‘brainless’ socks, and a class on toe up sock heels with Chrissy Gardiner.

51.jpgI’ll post on that tomorrow, for now you have a picture of my homework.  More thrills, eh?

I hope your weekend is a thriller,

Love,

Ellen

*Yes, I have a well-documented Low Thrill Threshhold. This is a positive -  I am a cheap date and don’t have to save as much for retirement.

Minnesota Rouser!

Hi, Jan,

You may have to be from Minnesota or at least a Big 10 fan to get the title reference.  Or facile in googling.  It’s a running joke at our house, used whenever possible, which means it is often a bit underwhelming.  Maybe this is a case in point, but I’m easily amused these days.

72.jpgI spent the weekend gathering some old hats and a couple of new ones to post to Annie’s hat book project (which I did a good 5 hours before the deadline, but she says she is still taking hats if anyone out there wants to submit!).  Here are two of my old favorites - the 10 Below Hat designed by Anna Shallman with whom I’ve dog sledded and who is an artist/designer at Sisu Designs, an LYS in Ely, MN where I’ve left part of my knitter’s heart,  61.jpgand the official Kittyville Hat, designed by Kitty Schmidt and featured in Stitch’n Bitch, which Jenny knit for me.

21.jpgTwo new ones - yet another olive helmet liner, dubbed Pimiento on my Ravelry project page.  (Get it?  Yes, just as funny as the post title.   Don’t hurt yourself laughing.)  Pretty dull at this point, but you gotta admit, that is one cute model.

5.jpgAnd an original design, basically a large scale swatch for me to get some experience in designing ganseys.  I used traditional gansey patterns and even included over-lapping garter stitch welts, common in these sweaters.  The yarn is Green Mountain Sylvan, a wool tencel blend (and purchased, coincidentally, from Sisu Designs).  I’ve cast on for the sweater now and I have to say, actually knitting up the hat really taught me a lot.  I’m going to go forward with much greater confidence.

I took these shots on one of the few truly hot, thunderstormy summer days we’ve had this year.  Believe me, I couldn’t say “Hats off to thee!” fast enough.

HOTT!,

Ellen

Anniversary Beauties and Hopeful Booties!!

Dear Ellen,

stunning-roses.jpgI wanted to show you the beauty I’ve had around me for the latter part of the week and through the weekend.  For our anniversary Dale arranged to have 30 long stem American Beauty red roses delivered to my office.  He’s been doing one for each of the number of years we’ve been married since our first anniversary.  They’re still cheaper than divorce and he’s still keeping up the tradition!  He has managed to pull it off even when you would think it single-rose.jpgimpossible.  I remember getting roses at sea in the midst of a Mediterranean/Persian Gulf deployment on USS EISENHOWER…he had sent silk roses to my stateroom-mate to have them “delivered” to my office at the appropriate time.  And when I deployed for Iraq, they showed up a few days early while I was in training since my flight out was actually the big day and he wasn’t sure they’d let me take them.  The Sergeant Major wasn’t sure what to do, but figured roses-close-up.jpghe had to let me have them in my barracks room even though it surely wasn’t “in the program.”  Here they are in my office at the Pentagon on my conference table.  Look at the table too…under the glass is the prayer rug my troops gave me when I left Iraq and my collection of challenge coins.  We in the military trade them…much like you Sock Summiters trade stitch markers.  I’m also including a shot of the lovely bouquet that Vanessa sent to us.  Dale made a fantastic vanessas-flowers.jpgdinner and her flowers were perfect with it.  I had the roses at work till Friday.  A few were just starting to look poorly today, so I broke them down, recut the good ones, said farewell to a few that were over the edge and now have 3 separate arrangements to enjoy.

dscn1923.JPGI also have a quick photo of my Hopeful Booties.  I managed to do a bit of organizing this weekend and found them…and the camera.  Of course the battery was dead, so then I had to look for the charger.  It was only within the last hour that I got the picture.  I suppose I could have used my camera phone, but I haven’t figured out how to get full resolution pictures transferred from it yet.  When I send them as text messages they end up tiny like the ones of the roses.  I’m quite pleased that I got 4 booties from the single ball…one set newborn and one set 3-6 months.  They’re the Cat Bordhi Life Ring Booties and were quite fun.

It’s 20 minutes past bedtime.  I can’t figure out how to make the days longer.  Can you?

Love, Jan

Matchless!

Dear Jan,

3.jpgOne of the fun things we did at Sock Summit was trade stitch markers, like the folks who go to the Olympics trade pins and things.  I found a half dozen or so marker swappers just by bumping into them in the marketplace and class, but was seriously concerned that I’d end up with a few dozen of my own to bring home.

4.jpgHappily, someone had suggested a meetup time on Ravelry to make finding each other simple and when I arrived, I saw a frenzy of swapping activity.  I actually traded every single one of my markers and came home with dozens of unique knitting jewels.

A closing thought appropriate to a Sock Summit blog post:  from Lela Nargi’s Knitting Lessons, in the letter from Geri Valentine: “…the joy of warm feet in winter is double joy when the warmth is beautiful.”

Double joy to you,

Ellen

Running on fumes - yarn fumes…

Dear Jan,

12.jpgSock Summit exceeded expectations.  It was 4 days of sheer fun.  So much fun I even forgot to eat lunch twice, and that’s saying a lot for me.  I’m home now after a redeye flight (2.5 hours of sleep) and a day of work, but I want to get some impressions down before the memories fade.

So many wonderful things - I’ll try to make it short and sweet, but give you an idea of the ride we went on.  I’m sure a few more photos (especially of stash) will trickle into my next few posts.

411.jpgBy the way, many people (including BothTwins - how cool to meet them!) asked, “Is Twinsetjan here?”  I answered, “No, Twinsetjan is jealous!”  Though I had my fun, I do wish you could have been there.  That would have doubled the fun, as hard as that is to imagine.

6.jpgI started my fun with dinner with Kris and Wes.  Yummy food, yummy conversation.  Karen has wonderful in-laws.  And yes, Portland is called City of Roses for a reason.

7.jpgI met the wife of the man whose onesy that he wore as a child was used as the inspiration for the Shibui Knits Baby Onesy I just knit.  She is associated with Knit Purl, one of the fine LYS’s in Portland.  They held an in-store champagne reception for SS attendees which was a lovely add-on.  This is their SS booth.

8.jpg9.jpgThere were men at the show, and of course men with tools.  I bought some fine knitting tools (square needles and palm needles) from these guys, inventors/developers of each relative type.

13.jpgI fought crime with Mortaine, creator of Handknit Heroes.

16.jpgI saw knitting socks on circular needles taken to ridiculous lengths.  That’s 14 socks on one 100″ circ at the Skacel booth.

18.jpgNeedles up in preparation of setting a world’s record for simultaneous knitting!  Check out this photo for an unflattering but documentary photo of me at the event, knitting away happily for the 15 required minutes.  24.jpgStephanie and Tina made sure we followed the rules.  Now we await the ruling of the Guinness committee.

28.jpg Truly one of the best parts of the Summit was meeting internet friends like Jocelyn.  She is absolutely as charming and intelligent in person as she is on her blog.  We waited together to get our Barbara Walker books signed , both of us even more happy to have her feminist writings autographed than her knitting stitch anthology (though I got that signed, too).  Jocelyn later helped me find the right yarn and pattern at the Knitspot and Briar Rose booth (fun to meet the BR dyer (sorry, blanking on her name) and also Anne Hansen!).

30.jpgWe took a break at the Classical Chinese Garden.  Deb, my Minneapolis friend and roommate for SS, seemed in her element here.

37.jpgPowell’s knitting shelves were jam-packed with knitters.

38.jpgBarbara Walker’s lecture on how she became a knitter took an interesting turn into how she became a skeptic.  This woman is amazing - reminds me of Aunt Leila with her myriad passions and intellectual power.  She has authored so many ground-breaking books in several areas.  Over and over, she got the biggest applause from the community.

63.jpg Priscilla Gibson-Roberts’ class on Turkish socks gave me the chance to ogle incredible examples of antique and modern socks from the Middle East.  This pair (inside and outside) was one of my favorites.

71.jpgBut more than socks showed up - look at this clever lady and her crutch cozies!

75.jpgI hiked in the Hoyt Arboretum while I awaited the Ravelry meetup.  Look, a new (to me) milkweed!

76.jpgAnd look, Casey and Jess!  They were super sweet and kept thanking us, very sincerely, for coming.

80.jpgBut the best part of the meetup was connecting with my new buddies, Cricket and Joan.  We hooted and hollered all night.  If you are nice, we’ll let you be part of our soon-to-be-formed Ravelry group, Virtual Cellmates.

84.jpgOn the way home we proselytized for our craft, trying to convert muggles on the light rail.  We considered it a victory when a couple of very hip young men called out “you rock, sock ladies!” as we left the train.

88.jpg The luminary panel was luminous.  That is Lucy Neatby, Cat Bordhi, Deb Robson, Anna Zilboorg, Priscilla Gibson Roberts, Tina, Stephanie, Meg Swansen, Barbara Walker, Judith MacKenzie McCuin and Nancy Bush. I was especially struck by the humble wisdom of Nancy Bush and Cat Bordhi’s casual, don’t take myself too seriously, vibe.

90.jpg And finally, we had to go to the airport and come home.  We were exhausted but happy.  Deb and her mom, Judy, were awesome roommates.  We giggled so much, pet so much yarn, bought a lot of it, were awe-struck by knitting goddesses and ultimately saw that the goddesses were all around us and in us.  That was the best part of SS, by far.

Now my inner goddess needs to go to bed.  I’ll have some more soon - I haven’t even touched on the fun that was stitch marker swapping or stash enhancement, but there is time for that.

Love,

Ellen