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

Archive for October, 2009


Lesson in Thermodynamics

Hi, Jan,

Thermodynamic driving forces make things happen. A difference in electric potential makes a current flow, a difference in temperature causes heat to flow, you get the idea.

63.jpgSo, as things get cold and bleak here, we are seeing the effects of a thermodynamic driving force in action.  Warm woolenwear is flowing into the region, and we even got an influx of hot, hot stuff from the South this week.  A package arrived from Virginia, with my name on it…

72.jpgIt’s hard to feel chilly looking at my new Violette needle case, designed and created by Knit Nana aka Nana Sadie Rose aka Sallee, a wonderful new friend from Sock Summitting.  In addition to knitting, Sallee sews wonderful bags, and when I saw this design, Violette,  on Jocelyn’s blog, I sinned.  I coveted it something furious.  And I wasn’t going to wait around hinting for someone to give it as a gift (not like I have had to do for my yet-to-be-attained first set of Signature needles (size 0, 5″ dpns, stilletto point, not that I’m hinting, at all, like, really…)).

81.jpg91.jpgI’m glad I didn’t wait.  Look at it’s warm goodness, just perfect solace for a week when most of the leaves decided to fall at once.  Pockets for dpns, multiple leaves for circulars, so bright, so soft, so happy on the eyes.  (Yes, I do have more dpns than will fit in those pockets.  Wanna make something of it?!)

I just got off the phone with Marie, by the way, and it was great to hear her laughing and smiling and happy on my ears.  She is clearly doing much better.  I hope you are also finding some happy, and some warmth, this weekend.

Love,

Ellen

52.jpgP.S.  More warmth this week - Wilson brought flowers to me as a Happy Anniversary of our First Date.  It really is a more important day to us than the wedding anniversary, truth be told.  I have to pinch myself when I think about how great these 32 years have been.

Bind offs just keep getting better…

Hi, Jan,

I wrote back in August about Chrissy Gardiner’s extremely elastic cast off with a yarnover between stitches.  Well, there is an improvement on it.  It was published in the Fall 2009 issue of Knitty, and was invented by Jeny Staiman.  It’s called Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off (JSSBO).

The difference is subtle, but creates a more subtle cast off, as well.  Instead of the braided appearance of the other, this one blends in better, more suitable for masculine socks, in my mind.

There is a fine tutorial in the Knitty article, but in case my pictures are more clear, here is my take on it.

27.jpgBefore working each stitch, you add a yarnover.  The difference between this version and the one Chrissy taught is that when the next stitch is a knit stitch you do the yarnover in reverse - rather than yarn forward then back over the needle, you bring it over the top of the needle from the get go.

34.jpgYou then knit as usual.

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43.jpgAfter that, you lift the yarnover over the end stitch on your right needle (the one just worked) and

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51.jpgth62.jpgen pass the stitch to the right of that over the end stitch, just like normal binding off.

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71.jpgYou can also pick up both the yarnover and the next stitch together and pass them both over the end stitch in one swift move if you are that coordinated.

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101.jpgIf a purl stitch is your next one to work, do a yarnover just as you usually would.  With yarn in front, pass the yarn over the top of the needle and wrap it on around to the front of the work again.

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112.jpgPurl the next stitch as usual, 121.jpgpass the yarnover over the new stitch, and

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152.jpgpass the next stitch on the right needle over the new stitch.

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141.jpgOf course, you can pass them both together, as well, if you like.

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161.jpg171.jpg181.jpgThe resulting edge is neat, very stretchy and bounces right back.

20.jpgI used this bind off for Wilson’s socks, aka Wilson’s Rib.  I don’t want anything like a tight bind off discouraging him from wearing these, the first socks I’ve knit for him.

Of course, it might discourage him if I don’t finish the second sock.  I’d better get on with it.

Love,

Ellen

Raising my spirits (yes, that kind, but the other kind, too)

Hi, Jan,

I’ve just come off a very hard week - personnel issues on a non-profit board I’m on, no good solution possible, tons of work to come, lots of soul searching, and to top it off, a delayed flight home to a sick husband.  I was so needing to be taken care of.  I guess that’s where the cognac came in. (Mom, no big worries, it’s a cold, nothing worse, but he is laying low today, watching football and drinking tea, not what I was drinking last night.)

211.jpgSo I’m trying to take care of myself, and I’m finding that sitting in the autumn sun,weaker though it is at this point in October, and listening to bluegrass music and knitting is kind of lifting my mood.  I’m enjoying the play of the lower angle of the sun on the textures of my gansey.

111.jpgAnd outside, Karen’s wedding violas are still smiling, which certainly warms my heart.

I hope your weekend is finding you smiling.

Love,

Ellen

P.S.  No sooner than I had posted this did I find out that my niece, Jan’s daughter, took a bad tumble down a stairway and has a severely broken ankle with a long road to recovery ahead of her.  She’ll be fine eventually, but is in a lot of pain right now.  Please send healing vibrations her way and supportive thoughts to Jan, who undoubtedly isn’t really smiling right now.

Cummerbund

Dear Jan,

Do you know the etiology of “cummerbund”?  It comes from this area of the world, home of Nordicware and the famous bundt cake pan.  Originally pronounced “cover-bundt”, it was a garment used to cover the bulge caused by eating too many bundt cakes. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

110.jpgWhether the former is 100% accurate or not, it seems I am knitting a cover-bundt.   I was concerned that it wasn’t working up big enough - when I measured across it was a couple of inches shy of what I’d planned for hip circumference.  I cursed those lying swatches, until I remembered that I had actually followed prescribed procedure and had washed it in the manner I expected to wash the sweater - full soak in a nice wool wash.  So into the soup went the cover-bundt, and after an overnight dry, it fit just as I’d hoped.  I know I am cursing myself by saying this, but proper swatching may have actually worked for me this time, saving me from a sweater that grew a size too large after blocking.

Upon closer inspection, I think this is too long for a cummerbund, so I am changing my mind and will keep knitting on it until it is a gansey.

Love,

Ellen

And not the least…

Hi, Jan,

I suddenly realized I didn’t have a picture of B in the last post.  Serious deficit on my part.

19.jpgHere he is with K and Biscuit.  Biscuit is clearly his cat.

Brandon loves kitties, loves to cook, loves children, loves K.  I tell ya, what’s not to love?!

Love to you, too.

E

A New York minute…

…and a moment in Providence, too.

Hi, Jan,

It was a quick turnaround trip, but with a long weekend we made it to Providence to check out the newlyweds’ haunts and to NYC to confirm that Jenny had a reasonably safe home.

15.jpgWe saw  Purl Soho (this yarn shop is barely bigger than what you see here, but packs a lot into that small space),

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. 33.jpgWashington Square Chess hustlers (Wilson went 2-1-1 and had a fantastic time),

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151.jpglovely daughters, lovely niece and her charming wife,

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25.jpgold college roommates (not implying that the roommate was old, and yes, the roommate is on the right),

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311.jpg and cuteness.

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7.jpg8.jpg9.jpg10.jpgWe ate yummy food.  Accent on the yummy desserts.

dscn0194.JPGWe saw a bear.

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132.jpgIt made us happy.

Love,

Ellen

Oh, summer, we hardly knew ye…

Dear Jan,

This has been a crazy year.  Super cold winter (like the old days, claim the natives), super cold summer (coldest July on record), summer in September (record breaking warmth, probably warmer than July), and then this (tied for heaviest snow in first half of October).

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18.jpgIt makes me think of wool socks.  This one is for Wilson, a broken rib pattern, toe up, out of Trekking Pro Natura (75% wool, 25% bamboo).    I hope it fits him.

(But if it doesn’t, I’m pretty sure it fits me.)

Love,

Ellen

Despite the scowling, I was having fun…

Hey!  I’m talking about knitting!

131.jpgMy knitters came to our house this last week.  W said it sounded more like a party than a knitting group, and it felt that way, too.  We laughed hard, we shed a tear or two, we knit.  ‘Nuff said.

14.jpg16.jpgI became one with my swatch for Many Moments of Grace, my next Bohus sweater.  I may look growly, but I am pretty pleased with the results.  Suebell (on Ravelry) triple dog dared me to consider mitred corners and a hemmed button band, and here they are.  Coming soon to a Bohus sweater near you.

More, much more, to come on this sweater.

Love,

Ellen

P.S.  Just got home from a fun weekend of visiting our ladies on the East Coast - post to come…

P.P.S.  In answer to the questions from last post, a limnologist studies inland waterways - ecology, chemistry, geography.  My limnologist was traveling home to the U of Wisconsin after attending a conference on the spiny water flea, an invasive non-native species.  She was a delightful seatmate, and no, I didn’t think to tell her about the sweater.

A sweater has its day…

Dear Jan,

11.jpgLong ago, back when our daughters were teenagers, Karen gave me a sweater.  It was very special.  It came all the way from Romania.  She thought to buy me a big, bulky sweater and carried it all around on her trip into the roots of Unitarianism, through Vlad’s castle, during a total eclipse of the sun, to the villages to see the cows come home.  That alone made it special, but thinking about the knitter who knit it, subsistence knitting to sell to tourists at heartbreakingly low prices, also made it special.

But it didn’t fit around my head.  I folded it and tucked it away, planning to undo the tight cast off and fix it sometime soon.

Did I mention I received this lo, those many days ago when our daughers were teenagers?  Yes, it’s been quite a while.  I felt the odd pang of guilt, but never enough to actually get it fixed.

Last Friday I rode home from Toronto next to a lovely young limnologist from Romania.  We talked at length about limnology, but also about Romania and how it was home to the very first proclamation of religious freedom, the Edict of Turda, when King John II Sigismund proclaimed in 1568 (rough translation into English, cut and pasted straight from Wikipedia):

His majesty, our Lord, … reaffirms that in every place the preachers shall preach and explain the Gospel each according to his understanding of it, and if the congregation like it, well. If not, no one shall compel them for their souls would not be satisfied, but they shall be permitted to keep a preacher whose teaching they approve…, no one shall be reviled for his religion by anyone…. 

Francis David (Dávid Ferenc) was his Unitarian minister, and we UU’s remain very impressed by this approach.

I arrived home to a chilly, dank weekend and dug into my sweaters.  There it was - practically leaping into my arms after this reminder of what a remarkable trip K had had and how fortunate I am to have a daughter who would drag a sweater that is about a cubic yard of wool all around Transylvania for me.  (This puppy is really fluffy.)

24.jpgSo I started unraveling this quaint, peasant-knit sweater’s neck, ready to make quick work of  the binding so I could start wearing it.  Wait - what’s this?  The neck has a seam.  Oh, the knitter wouldn’t have had circular needles and I guess not even dpns, so the crude back and forth ribbing, not too surprising.

32.jpg5.jpgHuh, that isn’t the simple one by one ribbing I was expecting.  Aren’t those twisted stitches?  And, what? why is there an additional yarn running between ribs?  I was gobsmacked.  That quaint peasant knitter had done the ribbing in twisted Brioche stitch.  In fact, the sleeve and waist ribbing were all twisted Brioche, too.

61.jpgAnd, upon closer inspection, those  cute little two stitch cables they’d added for a little textural interest were really k3tog followed by a k1p1k1 in same stitch on the next round.  That is something I encountered in a Japanese knitting class, not something I expected on rustic subsistence knitting.

41.jpgThis knitter may have not had the access to the tools I have, and maybe fell prey to the same mistake many toe up sock knitters do (cursed tight bind off), but they sure were sophisticated.  And after reknitting in the pencil roving that made up this sweater, splicing as I went when the roving pulled apart, I felt such a greater appreciation and humility than when I started.  This was a sweater that deserved the sewn bind off I gave it.

12.jpgWhereupon it gave me a hug back.

Hugs to you,

Ellen

And the winners are….!

KATRINA and LV2KNIT!  (Evidently that finger crossing paid off!) I’ll edit this post later today someday before I die to show the goodies that will be heading their way for the first and second prizes.  In the meantime, you all can be winners if you take some time to go exploring some of the fabulous blogs belonging to those who commented on the contest entry.  We have a very talented community developing here and I love that our blog might be a means for some of you to make connections. Thank you all for the well wishes, and Ellen and I both intend to keep this going.  We’ve even started talking about a future in coming years that might include taking Twin Set Designs to the next level.  We’ll see.  And we hope you’ll continue along with us.  Ciao!  Jan