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

Archive for September, 2009


Fired up?

Hey, there,

114.jpg I attended the health care rally in Minneapolis today!  Lisa was following Twitter and realized at close to the last minute that it was possible to get in, and she picked me up and suddenly there we were!  It was so great to be there, to lend encouragement to President Obama as he seeks solutions to the big problems we have in health care and insurance.

I won’t hijack our blog into a long discussion of the issues, at least not in this post.  Suffice it to say that I believe it will help not only individual Americans but business, especially small business, if we can provide some sort of base of health care to all.   And it is the morally just thing to do, not just the financially sound thing.

24.jpgThe best part of his speech was when he left the policy stuff (he was preaching to the choir, anyway) and went into story-telling gear.  He related the story of his early campaign visit to Greenwood, SC, where the spirit of one enthusiastic woman changed his mood from exhaustion and frustration at having driven such a long distance for such a small crowd to one of excitement and determination.  She did this with her chants of Fired Up? Ready to Go? to which the crowd enthusiastically replied.  President Obama ended his speech with these questions and the atmosphere was electric as the crowd responded wildly.

33.jpgI don’t expect a response anywhere near as wild to the progress I’ve made on A2G2 (All American Girl Gansey).   Still, progress is good.  I hope the coming months see progress on health care reform.

Ready to go?

Ellen

Happy trails to us…

Dear Jan,

110.jpg22.jpg32.jpgBefore the memory totally fades, I wanted to share a couple of photos from our Labor Day bike ride.  A new trail opened up this summer that winds around and about part of Lake Minnetonka.  It makes for some fabulous views and lovely riding.  I am wearing the jersey I earned for riding to work at least 25 times this summer.  Quite the clothes horse, eh?

62.jpgJudit celebrated the holiday by getting a bath.  Doesn’t she look all sparkly white?  She relies on her nose now for most of her entertainment – her eyes and her ears seem to be less functional all the time, but she still relishes a good sniff.  It perhaps explains why she needed a bath (what was that stuff that smelled so on her?).23.jpg

113.jpgAnd in the not-very-exciting-to-anyone-but-the-knitter category, the lacework on Hanami has started and I’ve made some tiny progress on my American Girl gansey.  The trail to the finish on that shawl is going to be a long one, but at least the sweater should be done soon.

I hope your trails have been smooth this week.

Love,

Ellen

Through rust colored glasses…

Rust colored, and orange, and magenta, and scarlet – all the colors of autumn.  With the passing of Labor Day weekend, suddenly I’m looking at the world with new eyes.  The flare of orange on the maple at the end of the street that just 3 days ago was a freakish early color change is suddenly a sure harbinger of autumn.  The fading light at the end of the day, hours before bedtime, is no longer a disappointment but instead a call to come in and settle down for some peace and quiet.  The tomatoes that refuse to ripen on the vine, well, those are still a frustration, even through my new lens.  Just the same, I’m finding lots of new beginninings in the end of the summer season.

18.jpgOn the knitting front, a tiny sweater – a gansey for the American Girl sized dolls.  Our work group does a charity auction for breast cancer research and this will end up there.  It is a fun and fast project.  (Love that channel cast-on, don’t you?)

17.jpgAnd another tiny sock, the mate to the Baby Bordhi I showed a couple of posts ago.

19.jpgFinally, the beaded edge to a new shawl, Hanami, so scintillating to knit as the crystals sway and sparkle.  Joan likens herself to magpies in her love of beads; I have to liken myself to Joan, I guess, as I am finding these shiny objects very distracting.

91.jpg112.jpg15.jpgThe group that gathered for knitting tonight in St. Paul seem to find the autumn to be a productive time, too.  Karen L, in particular, wowed us with her finished Sideways Spencer, her gorgeous fused glass buttons, and a fabulous free form knit sweater she made for her grandaughter.  Yes, she knit that spiral first, then picked up stitches around it and knit to fill in the shape for the sweater.  The light yarn is glow in the dark. Incredible.

101.jpgKaren J was playing with new beginnings and had a wonderful story to tell with them.  The yarn she is knitting with, Filatura de Crosa Superior, was a gift from our Annie M.  This is marvelous yarn – light as a feather yet tough from the silk in it, fluffy and soft from the cashmere, tons of yardage in a ball, truly ethereal stuff.  Karen knew she had to find a wonderful pattern to knit in it.  She searched up a bolero that was perfect – used several colors of Superior, which was what K was gifted, had an interesting pattern, would be a lovely fit on K.  She described it to Annie with delight to have found the right pattern, ordered the leaflet – and laughed out loud when she read the designer’s name.  Yes, it was our Annie M, who had to have known from the description that it was her pattern but resisted spoiling the surprise.

121.jpg131.jpgCarrie is getting to the end of her very handsome socks.  They are impressive in how matchy matchy they are – without any planning by Carrie.  I think she just does it instinctively.

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16.jpgLisa did finish (the knitting at least) a sweater for a neighbor’s new grandson.  I am telling you, become friends with Lisa if you expect a child or grandchild.  She knits wonderful baby sweaters!

14.jpgAnd Gail is making really fast work of the Hanne Falkenberg kit that our other Annie gifted on her a couple of meetups ago.  She claims she is a relative beginner.  It is starting to be hard for us to believe her.

52.jpgI’ll leave you with my show and tell for the night – the finished Blue Shimmerish hat.  I am so in love with it I may have to go start something else – my Bohus Rimfrost sweater.  But maybe not tonight, or I will have to wear very dark lenses tomorrow to cover the bags beneath my eyes!

Love,

Ellen

21 ping salute

Hi, Jan,

The cherries have been piling up in my freezer.  I’m not making enough pies, obviously, but you know, I’d just eat them if I did and there would be more room in the freezer and less in my clothes.  When I noticed one of the packages had 2006 written on it, I knew it was time to take action.  Cherry jam action.

51.jpg71.jpgMaking jam is even more suspenseful than typical canning.  Not only do you wait for the pings, you cross your fingers that things will set up.  I followed the directions with care – wow, 6 cups of sugar to 4 cups of cherries!  It is fun watching it mix in – it goes from a solid to a soup in about 45 seconds as the sugar draws the juice out of the cherries.

8.jpg9.jpgAnd then we have the most dangerous thing in the kitchen – hot syrup.  All of it got into the jars and not on me, and at the end of a long afternoon I had a tower of rubies.  And today, I can report that it seemed to set up very well.

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31.jpgMy Bohus hat is making me happy, too.  I subbed in a couple of colors from Forest Darkness in order to do the complete design repeat – I only had yarn from the wristers extras that I’d received from Susanna for doing some knitting for her.  That dark olive was not completely settling in when I had just added it, but now that it is balanced by more of the dark teal, it is adding a little jazz without stubbing your eye.

41.jpgI’m going to spend the rest of the evening finishing the hat off.  Even though we are having a wonderfully warm Labor Day, you can never be too prepared in MN!

Love,

Ellen

P.S. I got around to publishing this a day after I wrote it, and yes, the hat is done.  Pictures to come…

Cubic Zucchinia

Hi, Jan,

It has been a homesteading weekend for me.  Wilson has been playing in a  chess tournament so I’ve had long productive days to myself.

10.jpgOne of the things I’ve gotten taken care of is processing a bunch of CSA produce, including the dreaded zucchini.  I don’t care how many “great!” recipes I’ve seen for them, I can only handle them a few times a year, cooked with caramelized onions for our niece, Merry.  (Amazing young lady, for many reasons besides loving zucchini, though that is pretty impressive for anyone a teenager.) Because I am loath to discard any of the vegetables grown with such care by my farmer, I have tried to come up with ways to use zucchini.  Even so, some get used to make compost.

11.jpg21.jpgBut this year, maybe I’ve found the solution.  I am pureeing them in soups – carrot soup, potato soup, cauliflower and brie soup.  I figure they are mostly water, so it is like adding solid broth.  Then I figured, why not make the broth ahead of time?  So I chopped ’em up, cooked till tender, pureed them, and then froze them in ice cube trays.  Now I can add a handful every time I make a pureed soup and they don’t have to turn into slimy mush in my veggie drawer.

111.jpgNow here are the real gems – cherry juice cubes.  I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what to do with them!  (More on what happened to the cherries in another post.)

12.jpgAnd, to end on some more green things – here is a little sock, a Baby Bordhi I’m calling it.  It is a sample of one of Cat Bordhi’s new sock architectures from her New Pathways for Sock Knitters book.  It is a dandy, and I think I’m going to learn a lot more than sock knitting.  It is a great exercise in learning 3-D shaping.

13.jpgAnd one more little green thing – when we ran out of thistle seed, I swapped in the hummingbird feeder for the thistle sock and this little ruby throated hummer found it right away.  I love watching them perch quietly – such a contrast to their usual hyper-intense energy.

I am going to spend the rest of the evening perching.  I hope you’ve found a nice place to settle in this evening, yourself.

Love,

Ellen

Forward Momentum

Dear Ellen,

I still have a day and a half left of this three day weekend and I already feel accomplished!  I do, however, have lots more to get done.  My biggest problem is, as ever, the things I want to do don’t map directly to the things I have to do.

Things I have to do…

  • Watch “An Inconvenient Truth” and write a 5 page paper on it, including other references
  • Clean and organize office
  • Prep and enjoy yummy produce from Lancaster County

Things I want to do…

  • Cast on Bonnie by Fiona Wells
  • Write pattern for Cutie Patootie Booties and test
  • Read through some of EZ’s books…never really have read them, really just have referred to them
  • Start final section of TKGA “Basics, Basics, Basics” course (Yes, I know you didn’t think I needed it, but it did make me slow down and try things I would not have tested otherwise…sort of like your stock stubs.  I’m a better knitter for it, even though I didn’t learn anything new.
  • Work on other UFOs
  • Watch recorded “Project Runway” season premier and episode 1
  • Prep and enjoy yummy produce from Lancaster County

I will do some from each list and really enjoy the last item on both.

dscn1939.JPGdscn1936.JPGdscn1940.JPGOur trip to the property yesterday not only gave me the opportunity to buy a watermelon, yellow wax beans,  sweet potatoes, and tomatoes (all for less than $9.00!), but was a great chance for us to start enjoying our land.  My idea of dscn1944.JPGdscn1943.JPGenjoyment was sitting in the camp chair knitting.  Dale’s idea of enjoyment was firing up the chain saw and cutting through the undergrowth and dead wood that line the edges of our woods.  There’s a real rat’s nest (not literally) at the edge from the original clearing of the property that is now farmed.  I did help — got pretty good with the “weed whacker on steroids.”  And I walked about with the dogs.  dscn1947.JPGWe all enjoyed the woods and found what appears to be an old stone wall…we may have to try to rebuild it.  The clearing for the shed is all set.  Here you can see the view from the back of it, one of the places I found to take a knitting break.

dscn1949.JPGAnd I have made some good knitting progress.  The drive up and back gave me time to work on some new socks that I’m calling Fractured Fairy Tale Socks.  They’re based on the fractured lattice pattern and every time I hear the word fractured, I can’t help but remembering Rocky and Bullwinkle.  Did you know they are available on YouTubedscn1958.JPGI’m going to do a simple hybrid gusset on them…hope to knock them out before Hat Wars II starts up.  I finished the last pair I was working on…the Desert Skies Socks on my last work trip.  I went to San Diego where I got to see Martha and part of a dscn1956.JPGdscn1948.JPGPadres/Nationals ball game.  Lots of fun!  I worked up a quick pair of booties for young Austin too.  They’re a lovely angora/wool blend…baby’s first angora!  For some reason these are striking me as just so cute! so I’m calling them Cutie Patootie Booties.  At home I’m still working away on my Einstein…bit by bit.

I’ve wasted much of the day now, so I’ll sign off and see if I can’t at least get at that produce.  I’m hungry too…another good reason for heading for the kitchen.

Love, jan

Picot peek.

Dear Jan,

Startitis of the variant Bohus – it is an illness to which I have no immunity.  Egged on by the other Bohus Babes (maybe there are Bohus Boys, too, I hope?), I have joined a Bohus hat KAL.  I’m using up some bits and pieces of yarn I earned when I knit a hair clip for Susanna’s classes. It isn’t enough variety of colors to accurately follow the Blue Shimmer pattern in its entirety,  so I’m calling my design Blue Shimmerish.  I’m winging the hat and started out with a picot edge.  Questions from other participants in the KAL prompt me to post a bit of a tutorial on the technique here.

1.jpgThe beginning of a nice picot hem is a provisional cast on of your choice.  I use something like a Turkish cast on with a smooth cotton yarn in the place of the second needle.  I then knit about an inch in stockinette, followed by one row of *k2tog yo* repeated for the entire round.  Knit the same number of rows as you knit prior to the *k2tog yo* round and you are ready to join the hem together. Here you see my provisional cast on at top, from the right side.

2.jpg3.jpgUsing a fine circular needle, remove the waste yarn from the cast on and pick up the live stitches. Fold the piece together and hold the two left hand needles next to each other, prepared to knit with the outside of your hat facing you.

4.jpgKnit through both the first stitch on the top needle and the first stitch on the back.  Check that you are orienting the back stitches properly (in case you picked them up without worrying about which way they were placed on the needle).

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5.jpgKnit along in this manner, knitting a stitch off each needle with each stitch.  Oh – it should be simple to match them up as you should have stopped your knitting at the start of a round, but do check that your columns of stitches line up front and back so you don’t end up with a skewed hem.

6.jpgWhen you finish the round, you have a lovely hemmed edge and are ready to move on to the body of the hat.

Edited later to add: if you really want to be sure it doesn’t flip up, knit one extra row on the front side of the hem.  Don’t ask me how I know.

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7.jpgIn Bohus, that means time for some addictive colorwork.  Here is both right and wrong side of my hat thus far.  The color isn’t as bright and pretty as it truly is because I stayed up way too late knitting.  It really is a sickness.  Be careful, it could be catching!

Love,

Ellen