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

Archive for November, 2009


Knit out for the homeless…

Hi, Jan,

The event was really called Sleepout for the Homeless, but where there are knitters, there is a knit out, right?  The goal was to raise awareness and money of/for the homeless and also the on-the-verge-of homeless in the Twin Cities.  It was held right on our work campus, and many other corporations are holding similar events this month, with a goal of raising $2 million to support everything from shelter to food shelves to transportation and job training.  If you feel like donating, you can from the link above, but I imagine you have local programs that need your support, too, and expect you may want to donate to those, instead.

21.jpgWe raised over $40,000 at our event, a good start.  We also had a lot of fun.  W was a brilliant bocce player, winning something like 7 rounds in a row, despite my trash talking (“your mother knits army boots”).

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31.jpgWe got some knitting in (yes, indoors where some service projects were taking place), though no army boots.

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52.jpg42.jpg14.jpgI met up with Annie later for some more  knitting after Lisa and W had tucked in to their box amid box city.

Last year at the same event, Lisa and I knit hats for charity.  I got about 2/3 done with another hat this year, finishing it up the next day.  Details in the next post.

I got up early and came home for an additional 3 hours sleep.  Not an option for those on the streets, and something I’ll keep in mind as I pass Salvation Army kettles and other charitable giving opportunities this season.

I hope you are sleeping soundly wherever you are traveling these days,

Ellen

Resistance was futile…

Dear Jan,

At the alpaca festival this weekend, there was this gorgeous, gorgeous orange yarn, it held the power of the summer sun in its depths and the vitality of marigolds reflecting that sun back up to the sky, and it was sitting next to this gorgeous blue yarn that captured the blue of that end of summer sky and also foretold of winter frosts, and next to that was a red that loved them both.  And once I heard they were spun from the fleece of Frosty, a now departed alpaca at Riverside Alpacas, and once there was only one skein of the orange that had started the day as three…really, did I have much choice?

7.jpgAnd you know, as long as we’re rationalizing irrational purchases, wouldn’t a little creamy natural yarn be a nice way to remember Frosty and it would tie the colors together, anyway?

Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.

Love,

Ellen

P.S.  (Though this deserves a post of its very own)  Happy Veterans Day!

Just dandy…

Dear Jan,

51.jpgNext year when my neighbor looks askance at my lawn where the goldfinches are happily feasting on dandelion seed heads, I’ll have to be sure and show him one of my other purchases at the alpaca festival I was at over the weekend.  This 100% alpaca yarn from Wild River Ranch Alpacas was dyed with dandelions – the flower, the leaves/stems, and the roots.  I think the proprietor said she used cream of tartar for the mordant.  She also uses a copper mordant and gets deeper golds.

6.jpgHow can you resent dandelions when presented with this kind of evidence of their value (if goldfinches weren’t enough)?

Love,

Ellen

Surprisingly satisfying…

Hey, Jan,

I suppose you are in the air on your way to Europe right now, or will be soon.  I hope you sleep a little on the flight, even if it is prime knitting time.

This weekend was not exactly prime knitting time, but I found it extremely satisfying nonetheless.  We got a heat wave to start November, hitting 64F on Saturday and though a bit cloudy today, it was close to that warm again.  That meant even the most talented yardwork procrastinators (I’m married to one and so is Wilson) got a chance to make up for past failings and get some outside tasks done.  Who’d a thunk that getting a few shelves in the garage cleaned out and clearing out a garden bed or two would make me feel like I have control of my life again?  It was surprisingly satisfying.  As fun as this knitting stuff is, I really have to get out more, it seems.

41.jpgI’m sure the dyer at Enchanted Meadows was equally surprised and satisfied when they pulled this wool/mohair blend out of their bright yellow dye bath.  The white wool in the same pot was clear yellow; the gray blend became this wonderful, mysterious electric gray-green.  You will not be surprised to hear that it came home with me; I, however, am quite satisfied.

Love,

Ellen

Guest Author

Dear Ellen,

Lately I have been so consumed by life (much like the mother in the book you got from Jeanne) that I have utterly failed as a partner in this blog.  Oh wait, that’s right, I’m a partner, and that means I have someone who helps carry the load when I can’t.  I guess I performed the needing someone to help part of partnership pretty darned well, so I’m not an utter failure!  Thanks so much for being there and keeping the conversation going while I’ve been under the weather and overwhelmed.

For those not in our out-of-channel communications, here’s what’s been up in the last month.

  • Worst head cold ever (in bed for 3 days, but no fever, so not flu).  I was home but so tired I didn’t even keep up with e-mail, much less feel like blogging.
  • Traveled to Millington, TN twice for Navy business
  • Traveled to Pennsylvania to work on and walk on Fair Winds
  • Labyrinthitis (extreme vertigo) that put me back in bed for another 3+ days — I couldn’t concentrate on the computer screen without feeling nauseous…It’s now minor, but still troubling — I see the doctor again Monday.
  • Marie broke her left ankle badly…I drove to New Jersey to stay with her in the hospital post-surgery.  She went home after 4 days and is healing slowly — will need a second surgery in several weeks.  She did get permission from her doctor for car travel, so Dale is picking her up right now and will bring her down here for 5 days.  It will be a good change of scenery for her and a good break for Heidi who has been heroic through it all.
  • Long, long hours at work while we struggle with resource allocation and strategy in the Middle East.

On Monday I head to Europe for the week, so will probably go fairly silent again, but this time I expect it will be for a far shorter period.  At least I surely hope so!

On the knitting front, I have clung to opportunities to click my needles together and say, “There’s no place like knitting!  There’s no place like knitting!”  It has really helped me keep my sanity.  I have concluded that I am absolutely a process knitter as it was so evident that just having 10 minutes to focus on the creation of stitches would slow my heart rate and give me a tiny escape in which I blocked out thoughts of the craze going on in my life.  I found it very rewarding to have a tangible product — proof that I was moving forward on something!  And move forward I did.

dscn2044.JPGdscn2030.JPGI finished the Fractured Fairytale Socks.  And they are awesome.  They have about an inch of negative ease lengthwise and I now know the perfect length for me.  Working a simple gusset toe-up sock, if I start the gusset just when the sock reaches the crease of my thumb when slipped over my hand, the sock turns out at the perfect length.  This will prove very helpful on airplanes when trying to check the size of a sock in progress.  I wonder if it’s true for most people?  dscn2046.JPGThe lattice is made with simple twist-left and twist-right stitch work and was fun to watch grow.  I can tell you I was under more stress while knitting the second one and it is ever so slightly smaller than the first.  And with the last pair that did this, I was under more stress for the first sock — also the ever more slightly smaller of the two.  Do we see a pattern?  It works out okay for me as my ankles are different sizes from abuse I’ve heaped on them over the years, but I will now think about breathing more as I knit.  That seems to “even me out.”

dscn2036.JPGdscn2035.JPGI also made some real headway on the Cinnamon Tee that I started at the beginning of the summer.  I am loving this fabric.  The yarn is Elann Nilo and it is perfect for summer sweaters and tanks, though it doesn’t have much spring as there’s no wool in it.  There’s cotton, linen and viscose — the latter adds a nice bit of sheen and some interest as it picks up the dye with a bit of a different intensity.

dscn2034.JPGA Stitch Away From Genius is also making progress.   I expect to even be able to wear it this year.  I’ve knit it on the short side, expecting the bulky alpaca to stretch a bit.  How about that, I’m actually planning in accommodations for my yarn choices.  It seems so unlike me to plan ahead.  Hmmm….

dscn2032.JPGdscn2033.JPGMidnight Moth is very nearly complete.  I have 2 rows and the bind-off to go.  Of course, these are at the hem edge, so they are very, very long rows.  This is done in Elann Soie Bamboo, which I think they’ve discontinued.  A shame really, the fabric is soft, as I’d expected, but is also quite warm.  I didn’t expect that.  I am guessing it’s the silk that adds that characteristic.  I found the yarn to be quite splitty, but after adjusting to it, it was fine and I love how the pattern is turning out.  I hope to have it blocked in time ot travel to Europe with me.  Just the thing to add a dash of fashion to my garb.

dscn2055.JPGI’ve chosen yarn to test knit your gansey cap, which I’m going to name Winter Sky…400 yds of fingering weight that is Tempted Good Grrl in the Helena colorway, a variegation in greys and light blues that makes me think of those winter days that want to be bright, but still have snow clouds hanging there.  I know gansey is traditionally a solid, but this appealed to me and I wanted to see how it would work.  Stop me now if you think this is wrong.  I would have wound the yarn and cast on for this two weeks ago had it not been for Marie’s accident.  It’s hard to use a swift while driving on the New Jersey turnpike.  I’ll be taking it with me to Europe.

dscn2052.JPGdscn2053.JPGI hope to get it started tomorrow, but first I have to finish a project for Marie…a cast cozy.  I’m making it out of Dream in Color Starry in the Gold Experience colorway.  The stitch pattern is a variation on the broken rib stitch.  I’m calling it the broken ankle stitch.  I’m sure it already exists as something like “interrupted seed” or “broken seed,” but I’m claiming unvention rights regardless.  It looks like a pretty cool Christmas Stocking, so maybe she can re-purpose it by then.  I hope she’ll launder it first.  In the meantime it should keep her toes warm and her leg dressed up a bit.

Love, Jan

Solstice is coming…

115.jpgShhh! Don’t turn your head too fast to look or you’ll scare it.  The signs are clear, solstice is nearing, at least if my Solstice Cactus is telling the truth.

I felt like I received an early Solstice gift today.  My dear friend, Jeanne, told me she had a little something for me and I should stop by and pick it up.  Look what “a little something” was:

3.jpg2.jpgJeanne sewed this bag for me as a surprise!  It fits a bunch of my ugly polyester project bags.  And making it even more special, the fabric was designed by an artist who has become friends of Jeanne’s.  Barbara Lavallee lives in Alaska, Jeanne’s home state, and does wonderful watercolors of the people and places, especially the native Eskimo women.  She does all right by the cats, too.

And tucked inside was this:

4.jpg5.jpgThe Knitting of Elizabeth Amelia by Patricia Lee Gauch and illustrated by Barbara.  Barbara even inscribed it for me – cute, eh?  The modern folk story is of a baby knit up by her mother from special wool and how she knits up her own babies from herself, almost using herself up.  The children and husband realize what is happening and they pitch in to bring her what she needs to reknit herself.  It sounded very realistic to me, it really did.

I am so grateful to have Jeanne in my life.   When you come visit, we will have to all get together – you’d love her as much as I do.

1.jpgFinally, before we rush the next season too much, I had to share Wilson’s Halloween costume.  We cut this volleyball so it would fit on his head, painted his palm with acrylic paint blood, and recreated, yes, Wilson from Castaway.  He was such a good sport to wear it.

Now go ahead and bring on Thanksgiving, but not Solstice, not quite yet.

Love,

Ellen

Two (or maybe 4 or 5) steps forward, one step back…

Dear Jan,

102.jpgI am so enjoying knitting my gansey.  It is utterly amusing to watch the patterns appear  in purl stitches against the stockinette background.  Imagine my internal conversations: “oh, what a cute diamond!”  “you didn’t know it was going to be a diamond?”  “yes, I knew it was going to be a diamond, I am just demonstrating the advantage of having a low thrill threshhold.” “you rock!”

142.jpgBut you have to admit, the diamonds are pretty cute.

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122.jpgAlong with the trees of life – so lifey, don’t you think?

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134.jpgAnd the double marriage lines are electrifying.

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114.jpgAnd the gussets just make me inordinately pleased (as does using the word “inordinately”).

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153.jpgI have to admit, though, the double ring of reverse stockinette isn’t pulling it’s weight, and in fact is making things waver and rumple.  I think it should have been two garter ridges instead.  Look  how nicely the definition ridge of garter stitch at the bottom is behaving in comparison.

I may try another blocking on the needles to see if this will calm down, but I suspect surgery will be required.  My plan is to clip a stitch below where the patterning starts and unravel one row, catching the live stitches that results on both pieces of sweater.  I’ll then frog the reverse stockinette portions and reknit in garter – or maybe at that point I’ll have a whole new design for that portion.  An intense session of Kitchenering the two pieces together, and we’ll be back where we started, only better.  Don’t look for this to happen any time soon – I’ll probably finish the fronts and backs first.  I just can’t wait to see how cute the next diamond will be.

Love,

Ellen