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Archive for February, 2010


Made It to the Finish Line!

Dear Ellen,

dscn2527.JPGI finished my last WIPs Dancing entry just as the Canadian Men’s Team scored their sudden death victory over our hocky team.  For a country reputed for politeness, I’m thinking that wasn’t really the nicest move on their part.  On the bright side it did make it easy to ask Dale to come photograph my finished object.  Had the U.S. won he would have been glued to the TV.

dscn2519.JPGA Stitch Away from Genius is an Einstein Coat that will serve as a bathrobe.  I realized this pretty early in the knitting as I learned more about alpaca and drape and the fact that it just doesn’t have the sproinginess to maintain a dense, resilient fabric as one would want for a coat.  (At least not with a single strand of bulky weight — two maybe…better yet, one with a woolly friend would have been better.)   The fabric I have is not dense at all…it does have nice drape and is very comfy so I’m just as happy — it is luscious on and will get good use.  Now I need to find purple or burgundy paisley satin p.j.’s.  I added the embellishment to give it more zing (that was a LOT of purple) and to add some structure to the fabric.  It worked.  I’m pretty satisfied with the results.  This means I tallied 4 medals this Ravelympics…3 WIPs Dancing, 1 Aerial Unwind and 1 Short Track Shawl.  I feel accomplished!

Here’s hoping your gansey comes in under the wire!

Love, Jan

One More Down…One to Go!

Dear Ellen,

dscn2509.JPGdscn2515.JPGHere is the finished Cinnamon Tee in all it’s glory.  I am very pleased with this little shirt.  If I hadn’t gained about 10 pounds since cast-on it would really look great…instead there’s a bit too much negative ease, but current plans are to make that a non-issue by summer.  Even so, I could wear it very happily right now as long as I had a jacket over it — and don’t you think that neckline would look great under a jacket?  It’s too cold to wear it alone right now anyway.

dscn2504.JPGI’m also on the verge of finishing my last entry — all done except for sewing on 7 buttons.  I’m pretty sure that will be done long before closing ceremonies even start.  I’m about to go join Dale and Ruby for the big US-Canada hockey game and I should have those taken care of before the first period ends.  Did you know Ruby was a hockey fan?

Love, Jan

Destashing to REALLY Feel Good About

Dear Ellen,

22045_257524264614_176391009614_3390808_5316169_s.jpgJessie X writes in her blog about her friend Sherri and Sherri’s efforts to bring smiles to the faces of kids suffering from cancer.  Sherri works through Hair Flair for Hope and the National Children’s Medical Center where she brings wigs of her creation (made of wild, fun-fun-fun yarn) and holds workshops to help others do the same and workshops directly with the kids.  (If you’re on Facebook you can check out Hair Flair for Hope here.)

hair-flair-for-hope-girl.jpgSherri is still committed to this effort and still needs yarn.  I have some in my stash that was just waiting for this opportunity to tell me what it wanted to be and I’ll be sending it to her directly!  If you want to help support this work Sherri would be very grateful.  Here are her guidelines…“I need yarns of all types and textures.  With the exception of a few colors (gray, white, cream, pastels and non-vibrant blues) I can use it!  Bold colors (purples, reds, greens, oranges, bright pinks), fun yarn (glittery, variegated colors, etc…) and natural colors (browns, tans, burgundies, rusts, purples) are most useful and in shorter supply.  Partial skeins or unmatched dye lots are welcome!  My only request is that the yarn be either bulky yarns, novelty yarns, or super fantastic other yarns.  I am fully stocked on acrylic worsted weight yarns.”

Yarn can be mailed directly to her at:

Sherri Sosslau
PO Box 7660
Washington, DC  20044-7660

Do note the bit where she already has plenty acrylic worsted weight yarn — what she really needs is the stuff we bought because it so amused us at the time — or that came as part of that yarn lot on eBay that had the couple of skeins you really were after — or that your friend gave you because, “You knit, right?  I bet you could use this!”  This is a great way to lighten the stash and feel really good about it.  And USPS flat rate boxes are good around the whole country!

Love, Jan

Moonshadows and hobbits…

Dear Jan,

28.jpgI suppose the east coast was swathed in clouds last night so you may not have gotten to appreciate the stunning full moon.  We were clear and it was beautiful.  Snow makes a perfect canvas for moonshadow.  It reflects the light so wonderfully you hate to go to bed and miss any of it.

18.jpgSweet Marie sent me a sweet gift for, of all reasons, me wishing her a happy birthday.  I’m pretty sure she is part hobbit.  I think I’ll go mark the calendar for next year, as the cards she sent, along with a charming notebook in the guise of a dancecard, are so delightful.  Thank you very much, Marie!  This is one more concrete embodiment of the wealth of friendship the internet knitting community has brought to us.

36.jpgThe stadium is in sight as I make progress on that gansey in my WIPs Dancing event for Ravelympics.  A few more rounds of ribbing on the sleeve, a redo on the neck ribbing (maybe adding a couple short rows to pull up the back of the neck), and some ends to weave in.  I’ll share a photo finish later.  What a luxury to spend a good chunk of the day knitting!

Love,

Ellen

P.S. On the topic of wealth - time to share more of it.  Whether they use it in Chile or Haiti or elsewhere, the Red Cross is getting a bit more from us this month.  Wilson and I are unbelievably fortunate; it is the least we can do.  I know others may have tapped out their discretionary funds with donating to Haitian efforts last month, so time for us to step up further. I encourage all who can to do the same.

Bohus?

Hi, Jan,

52.jpg27.jpgFinally, photos of the finished Swedish Hawthorne cap.  Despite its being knit from Kerstin Olson’s original design, in colors quite close to the original, I think it is more of a Bohus-inspired cap than a true Bohus.

35.jpgThe reason - the yarn, Fairy Hare from Kimmet Croft - just doesn’t meet the Bohus standard.   It is a a lovely soft merino/angora blend, the dyeing is adequate (though color intensity is not consistent along the strand), and it would make a lovely yarn for many projects.  The problem is that it is terribly inconsistent in spin, going from laceweight (too fine of a gauge) to chunky (far too heavy a gauge) within inches, and sometimes repeating this several times a yard.  At first I spliced out the worst of it, but it was so frequent I finally gave up and knit away.

45.jpgThe result: more of a folk cap than a Bohus hat.  Don’t get me wrong - it is still a fabulous cap.  But it isn’t Bohus.  Here is a shot of the cap right next to one knit of the SolSilke yarn from which the true Bohus reproductions are being knit.

17.jpgAs you likely know, this yarn is intended to be a slightly larger gauge - 7 st/in vs the 8.25 or finer gauge of the original sweaters.  Because of the larger gauge, the crown is exceptionally deep, and I had to alter the pattern to increase the decrease rate (hey, that’s calculus!) by about 50%.  It yielded a pretty gathered top. I used a size 1 needle - likely I could have gotten a finer gauge if I’d gone smaller, but this needle size worked well for me with this yarn.

71.jpg62.jpgAnother thing of beauty I’ve been admiring this week is the way our snowbanks are melting.  I can’t quite capture it in photos.  South-facing snow banks are melting into the most bizarre shapes due to the reflected warmth from the road and the dripping and refreezing water.  Some look like waves cresting - really quite beautiful.  Yes, they are dirty, but the shapes are fabulous.  The left hand photo, not sure you can discern this, shows a thin sheet of twisted ice that has formed as things melt.  It amazes me that it doesn’t just melt in a lump.  (Yes, we cling to small thrills here in the northland.)

81.jpgAnd not a thing of beauty yet, but my last Ravelympics project (WIPS Wrestling) is heading that way - the gansey has resurrected.  You can see that all I have to finish is the last sleeve, and I am about 2/5 of the way there.  I also want to reknit the collar and snug it up a bit.  I hope I don’t get over-confident and wipe out before I cross the finish line.

Good luck crossing the finish line of your week!

Love,

Ellen

It’s a Beach Underwater Too

cimg2150.JPGcimg2148.JPGDear Ellen,

I didn’t mention scuba in the last post, because I’ve got a LOT of great scuba pictures.  Some of these are courtesy of one of the other divers who had a cimg2114.JPGcimg2021.JPGcimg2087.JPGdigital waterproof camera.  And some are from a waterproof disposable film camera that we picked up.

I won’t give a running commentary, but I will suggest cimg2101.JPGcimg2086.JPGcimg2122.JPGyou look for the manta ray, the shark, the spiny lobsters and the cute cimg2000.JPGcimg2013.JPGcimg2054.JPGdivers.  We got in two dives while we were there and are giving serious cimg1963.JPGcimg2025.JPGthought about getting our advanced qualifications before we go back.  Yes, we pre-booked to return in February 2011.  It was that fun.

Love, Jan

Life’s a Beach (Continued)

Dear Ellen,

What does one do at an all inclusive resort in Jamaica?  I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

dscn2348.JPGYou get there on chartered bus from the airport that makes a strategic stop about halfway into the hour and a half ride so that one might stock up on essentials like Red Bull — in order that they might be sure to have energy for all the vacation activities ahead.

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dscn2362.JPGdscn2369.JPGdscn2367.JPGYou walk on the beaches along Negril where you find starfish, sea urchins and feral puppies (whose mom was close by).

dscn2370.JPGYou make new friends like David the basket weaver.

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dscn2359.JPGdscn2408.JPGYou amuse yourself running back and forth with the sandpipers.  And you chat with the egrets who want some of your breakfast.

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dscn2376.JPGYou watch your husband sailing around on a catamaran.  And then you join him for some sailing yourself.

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dscn2375.JPGYou admire the pretty hibiscus blooming on your hotel room patio.

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dscn2393.JPGdscn2392.JPGYou knit on the beach and play footsie with your sweetie.

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dscn2400.JPGdscn2398.JPGdscn2396.JPGYou are amused by silly wood carvings found here and there around the grounds.

dscn2432.JPGYou get nice strangers to take your picture with your honey at sunset.

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dscn2493.JPG And you wrap it all up with Red Stripes at the airport before you head back to reality.

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Love, Jan

Carribean Blue

Dear Ellen,

dscn2405.JPGHave you ever had a Blue Hawaii?  They’re made with vodka, blue caracao, pineapple juice, light rum and sweet and sour mix.  In Jamaica they have their own version, the Caribbean Blue.  Pretty much the same except with Mountain Due instead of the sweet and sour.  It’s a very tasty combination and a very pretty color that certainly justifies its name!  And Dale was very talented at bringing them to me.

dscn2488.JPGAlso in pretty Caribbean colors is my latest finished object.  Caribbean Paradise  was my entry in the Short Track Shawls event.  It’s the 198 Yds. of Heaven pattern knit in Mountain Colors Mountain Goat in the sage colorway.  I cast on on our last night in Jamaica…just enough so that I could say  I started it in the Caribbean.  dscn2495.JPGI actually got quite a bit done on the ride from the resort back to the airport, even more on the plane home.  With only a few rows and the bind off left this morning, I finished it up.  The Mountain Goat was a joy to knit.  It feels cushy in your hands and has a silky feel dscn2499.JPGfrom the cashmere.  The stitch definition was good with very slight halo softening up the pattern without obscuring it at all.  After I wove in the ends I spread it out to see what it looked like unblocked — rather like a manta ray, I thought.

dscn2498.JPGdscn2501.JPGI gave it a short soak in warm water and Soak and then blocked it out on wires.  It’s about 44 inches across,  a neckerchief size that will be nice for keeping a chill off your shoulders without overheating you.  It’s almost dry now and I’m looking forward to wearing it.  I modified the pattern a bit so I could use as much of the yarn as possible.  I added in an extra repeat of the 22 rows of the body pattern, but that meant I needed to forego 12 rows of the border.  As a result the shawl border is far less dominant.  When I realized I wouldn’t make it through the entire border dscn2503.JPGI momentarily thought about ripping back to where the pattern directions started the border, but I  realized that it totally worked with a shallower border as well.  And as a result I only had about a yard of yarn left over.  Perfect!

My next post will be more on the vacation itself.

Love, Jan

Life’s A Beach (Intro)

Dear Ellen,

001_1.JPG003_3.JPG011_11.JPGI wanted to quickly put up just a few pictures from our time in Jamaica.  More to come once I move them from my netbook to my desktop.  We had a great time!  Sun, swimming, sailing, scuba…and another “s” sport that I won’t mention on this family oriented site.  :-)

Love, Jan

The poop on beans…

15.jpgMany of you have expressed a curiosity about my bean-eating habits.  I am not following someone’s magical bean diet or anything, I’m just doing what makes sense and appeals to me.

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Here is why beans for breakfast works for me -

  1. Beans are easy on the environment.  I don’t feel like I’m sucking up the world’s resources for at least a good portion of my protein.
  2. Beans are extremely high in resistant starch*.  Nutrition science is starting to unlock the benefits that resistant starch brings to a diet.  It’s emerging science, so I won’t make any claims, but I’m a believer.
  3. I love my gut microbiota**.   They are my friends.  Also, they outnumber me***.
  4. Beans come in an array of varieties that let me be a culinary explorer on the cheap.  Check out the wonderful varieties available at Rancho Gordo, just for example.
  5. Beans are convenient.  I make a pot on the weekend, dish it into separate storage containers, and with one or two minutes in the microwave I have a piping hot breakfast.
  6. I want something warm in the morning, especially in the winter.  I have nothing against breakfast cereal from a health standpoint and am happy to see my husband getting his whole grain every day, but I want something warm.
  7. Beans keep my body running right.****

So that’s the story on my resolution to eat more beans, and legumes in general.

16.jpg26.jpgThe story on my knitting is varied this week.  I chose not to take my Bohus project with me on work travels (over a dozen little balls of color on an airplane?  I think not.) so I got to spend some quality time with the gloves I’m designing.  Here is the right hand, prior to weaving in ends, tightening up joins, and grafting the fingertips.  I’ve added an asymmetric thumb gusset, plus a mini-gusset between thumb and forefinger, and devised a novel (to me, anyway) cast on method for between fingers that also allows insertion of a stitch or two for ease, another gusset, in a way.  Apparently, I have an inordinate fondness for gussets.

34.jpg44.jpgW is playing chess this weekend, so am back on track with Bohus knitting, having spent Friday evening and Saturday morning at it.  The knitting is done, though there are just a few ends to weave in!  Happily, I’ll get to look at the pretty underside of this stranded knitting while tackling this.  I’ll leave a more detailed review of the project once I get it tidied up and blocked.

Don’t think this burst of Bohus knitting is leaving me pooped*****.  I hope to post some finished shots of my baby Norwegian in the next day or two - just one more facing to tack down and the clasps to sew on.

Moving on******,

Ellen

*Resistant starch is so-called because it resists digestion.  It ends up in your colon, where it feeds friendly bacteria.

**See note on resistant starch.

***Did you know that you likely have 10 times as many bacteria in your gut as you have cells in your body?

****Um, I think if I elaborate on this it will definitely be more information than you wanted.  Just reread the post title if you really want to know.

*****Not that kind.

******Really, not that kind.