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Archive for February, 2010


Diet for the elite athlete…

Hi, Jan,

I think I’ve shared that my sole new year’s resolution is to eat more legumes.  I took it to new achievement levels last week with beans for breakfast every day, plus one day – beans at every meal.  (Wilson is still willing to sleep with me, in case you were wondering.  It seems my gut microflora has a low ratio of hydrogen producers, if you catch my drift.  Which means that Wilson doesn’t have to catch my drift – oh, boy, I have just stooped to new lows for humor on this blog, haven’t I?)

14.jpgAnyway, the Vaqueros last week were yummy and kept me from feeling hungry until about 45 minutes later in the day.  This week’s bean is Vallarta, a small white bean with a green undertone.  It smells of fresh cut hay as you wash it before soaking.  And it tastes like browned butter after cooking, with a texture perfect for baked beans – toothsome yet smooth, like a firm ganache.

25.jpgIn addition to cooking beans, I made some progress on Swedish Hawthorne yesterday,  though competing events (aka Valentine’s Day) distracted me somewhat.  I’m about 2/3 of the way through the colorwork.  I’m trying to withhold judgment, but it is becoming clear to me that while the Kimmet Croft yarns are marvelously soft and fun to knit, the Bohus designs at this larger gauge just don’t work as well.  We’ll see what blocking does…

Safe travels.

Ellen

First Event Over!

Dear Ellen,

dscn2344.JPGdscn2346.JPGWhile waiting for the dryer (so I could finish packing) I competed in the Aerial Unwind.  I can now say farewell to the shrug that wasn’t.  I love the way you can still see the Ramen quality of the yarn after rewinding.  I have no doubt that will come back to haunt me when I decide to use this yarn again.  It’s too lovely to think I won’t use it.  The cashmere really wants to be good friends with neighboring stitches, so I imagine it will want to be good friends with neighboring loops and curls in the center of a center-pull ball!  (It did occur to me, while teasing it loose as I frogged, that it would be ideal for fair isle or something needing steeking.

dscn2342.JPGLast night’s Annual Wallow was quite a good time.  The skits were not as funny as in years past, but they were enjoyable.  And our event was being held at the same time as Katsucon, one of the big anime conventions.  It was fun seeing everyone in their various costumes — either mess dress or anime world.  And the two groups seemed to enjoy each other quite a bit.  Here I am with a new friend.

I’ll probably not post from Jamaica, so have a great week.  Dale and I will!

Love, Jan

Slow Start

Dear Ellen,

dscn2339.JPGLate night at work last night followed by a large cosmo meant little knitting.  I did get a good bit of work done during a quick trip to Pennsylvania to sign the contract for our house design though.  Cinnamon Tee is up to about 55-60%.  I say 60% on my project page to make me feel good.  It’s really more like 55%.  I took the photo outside in the snow…looks icey!

dscn2341.JPGdscn2340.JPGI have a social event tonight (The Military Order of the Carabao Annual Wallow — no kidding), so won’t get much more done today.  I did take a photo of the poor little start of a shrug that will be my Aerial Unwind entry.  And I got a shot of the yarn for Caribbean Paradise so that project page won’t look so empty.  Tomorrow is packing, but then Cinnamon Tee and Caribbean paradise head to Jamaica with me where I expect the warmer temps will be very fortuitous to my Winter Olympics experience!

Love, Jan

Update from the slopes…

Hi, Jan,

Two hours of hard knitting this morning* and I am up to row 19 in the colorwork on my hat.  That is out of 75 rows – so over 25% done!

13.jpgI have missed one gate, so to speak, but I’m not going back to go through it.  I made that perennial knitters error – not reading carefully.  I only increased 20 stitches instead of 23 which throws you off at row 16.  But I’m going to let this ‘feature’ remain.  Angora halo covers lots of sins. The uneven texture and color of the Kimmet Croft yarn is partly to blame for my being satisfied with this slight irregularity.  Don’t get me wrong – I am enjoying this yarn quite a bit, but it is definitely a different animal and my emotional response to it is different, too.

Knit on!

Ellen

*Really, how hard is it when you are in your jammies and your DH is bringing you lattes?  I am so lucky.

The slopes were in bad condition…

…so I had to groom them.

Hi, Jan,

I got a good start on my Ravelympics project, Swedish Hawthorne*, last night, but when I sat down this morning and hit the next color, hmmm, is that 132, 127, or 129 I had to ask.  My eye went back and forth.  I couldn’t tell, even sitting by a bright window.  12.jpgFurther up in the chart the situation got murkier, where I couldn’t even tell where one color shifted to the next in the chart with ease – what would this look like when I was knitting in the evening, watching the Olympics or a movie with Wilson and the compromise light level was much lower?  (Secret to a good marriage – let your partner have enough light to knit.  Other secret to a good marriage – keep the knitting light low enough so your partner can enjoy their movie.)

23.jpg Thank you, copyright laws, for allowing a fair use copy of a pattern.  I took scissors to my copy, trimmed the color code to remove the black outline from one edge, and now I could put color to color and discern the color gradients for which Bohus is reknowned.

33.jpg43.jpgI combed carefully through the chart while in good light and jotted notes as to colors along the side.  I even traced the outline where very subtle color shifts occur and made sure to call out the purls that were marked in white against very pale backgrounds – like I was going to notice that while knitting in a movie theater!  (Note -I went back and marked those purls you see in the bottom right corner of the last picture after I typed this.  Also do you see the color shift in the lefthand picture that isn’t marked yet?  I caught it when I double-checked. The two purls are different colors.  These guys are tricky!!)

This has served as my warm up for the day’s competition.  Time to get to the slopes!

Love,

Ellen

* Swedish Hawthorne because “Wild Apple”, what we call the Swedish design, Vildapplet, is really an Americanization.  The original, I’ve been told, was inspired by hawthornes in fruit.  These are called Vildapplet in Swedish.  (that A should have an umlaut, but I don’t know how to add it, sorry!)

Cast on…

Hi, Jan,

Did you get started on your Ravelympics projects?  I felt bad for you east coasters, with the late start to the opening ceremonies, but you’ll be up and at it tomorrow morning before us central time zone denizens, I’m sure.

22.jpgI went over to my buddy Karen’s, also a member of Team BohusBabes, for the opening ceremony.  We cast on right on time – Karen starting a SolSilke yarn Forest Darkness hat and I took on a Kimmet Croft fiber Wild Apple cap.

32.jpg42.jpgWe are very honored to be part of this distinguished team and are trying to do them proud.  Karen beamed as she finished her cast on.  I managed to get about an inch or so into my cap, including 3 and a half rows of actual chart pattern beyond the ribbing.  The colors are a little brighter than in this picture, and the yarn a little softer.

I’ll keep you posted.  And tomorrow, after a little sleep, I’ll get a few shots up of progress on Norwegian Hugs.  I almost finished before the Olympics started, but not quite.  Baby is expected this weekend, but the sweater should fit for a few years, so I’m not that concerned.

Love,

Ellen

P.S.  Happy Birthday, Mrs. Dr. Yarn.

The Blizzard Ends Tonight…

But I doubt we’ll be dug out for a while.

dscn2319.JPGDear Ellen,

It started back up again last night.

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dscn2322.JPGAnd continued all day today.

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dscn2323.JPGdscn2327.JPGI got some good exercise shoveling out our driveway during a slow down in the wind and snow.  I wore my Firebird socks to keep my feet warm while so doing.

dscn2325.JPGI noted that you can still make out that guy’s car…but barely.  I wonder if the plows will notice it’s not just a snowdrift.  (There are lots of those.)

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dscn2326.JPGAnd I was amused at how the wind can make icecicles blow to the side.

We hope we’ll hear another plow sometime tonight.  The snow has really tapered off now, but drifting will continue as long as we have these winds.  They’re supposed to end soon, so maybe we can start digging out.  I don’t think we’ll be working tomorrow.  I have almost finished my course…one assignment left and if we’re home tomorrow, that’s what I’ll be doing.  It will be a big load off my mind!

I hope you’re staying warm too…and the rest of family in the storm’s path too!

Love, Jan

Unwind on Marie-Jolie’s birthday…

Dear Jan,

Today is Marie-Jolie’s blog party celebrating her birthday.  Hurry over there and check out the party favor she has made for her guests – a sweet little scarflette.  She is such a generous host that she is also having a door prize drawing for those who send her greetings.

24.jpg (edited in the evening to add…)  I am having a wine and cheese blog gathering  in honor of Marie.  That is aged St. Mary’s gouda and some cumin/garlic scented squash seeds (non-recipe:  toss seeds with olive oil and seasonings, salt and pepper to taste, roast at 325F until brown and toasty) on the plate and a nice Yellowtail pinot grigios in the glass.  Cheers to Marie!

I am actually hoping not to unwind this evening as I keep at Norwegian Hugs.  With Ravelympics starting ceremony THIS FRIDAY I want to have this little sweater all taken care of by then so I can focus on my events.   I’ll update this post tonight with some pictures of progress – hems sewn, front bands knit – still have lots of ends to weave, shoulder steeks to cut, and sleeves to set in, not to mention sewing on clasps that I don’t even own yet.

Have a lovely snow day.  I’m heading out the door in a minute through another few inches of snow.  We certainly haven’t gotten as much at once as you, but we’ve kept what we’ve gotten.  I’m afraid we are going to have piles of snow in June at this rate!

Ellen

Sock Wars V

Dear Ellen,

dscn2278.JPGI don’t know if you were tuned in or not to the fact that Sock Wars V is going on right now.  I was a warrior, albeit briefly.  I did finish one sock and started on the cuff of the second before being killed.  It was insane to have enrolled — it started right as the heavy lifting for my current class got going…and then the tragedy in Haiti consumed a good bit of attention too.  Nonetheless, once entered I had to make a stab at making a kill despite the amount of time (or lack thereof) I would have to dedicate to the effort.  I was killed within the week.  I have some comfort in that my assassin and her assassin are also dead.  I was working with Alpaca with a Twist Socrates — found that I really enjoy working with this yarn and will probably end up with more in my stash one day.  It’s a lovely blend of alpaca, merino, bamboo and nylon with medium stitch definition, a nice luxe feel as you knit and a resulting fabric that feels soft and warm with some drape, but still has structure.  It worked well with the stitch pattern for the socks which were the Jekyll and Hyde pattern. 

Death SocksAnd even though I was killed, my death came with some very nice socks in teals and blues.  They were made by Raveler cfabrication.  More pictures are here.  I like it when no one is really a loser.

Love, Jan

Another Snow Story

Dear Ellen,

dscn2302.JPGI’m sure you’ve heard about our big snow down here in the mid-atlantic.  We thought our big snow day was last month when we got the 14 inches and got a day off.  As it turns out, that was just the warm up act.  Mother Nature definitely upped the ante the last few days.  Right in our neighborhood dscn2304.JPGwe got about 18-20 inches, but they got up to 30 inches not very far from here.  Today is a beautiful sunny day, but I think we are literally in so deep that the city may still be closed down on Monday.   I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for the extra day.  As the Metro Rail system has not yet dscn2186.JPGdscn2296.JPGannounced when it will reopen, my hopes do have some basis.

Dale and I spent a goodly amount of time shoveling to the point where I’m confident I can make it out if I need to.Remember the deck photos from last storm?  You can see dscn2301.JPGhow much more we got this time with this side-by-side comparison.  I am very glad that unlike the owner of this car, we are able to park both cars in the garage.  He’s not going anywhere fast.

 dscn2287.JPGThis little guy found a hiding place in a sheltered bush on our patio. 

I have been hard at work trying to finish course assignments so I can declare my work on a Ph.D. complete.  No, I haven’t completed the Ph.D., I just reached the point where I was very confident that my future plans do not include options that would be enhanced by having a Ph.D. so I am not going to finish it.  Every examination of pros and cons tells me that after I hang up my uniform (2-5 years from now), I want to shift focus to family and the creative process so I’ve decided to recapture time that has been expended on keeping other doors open.  Once I finish the current course, you may find I actually meet my commitments to things like correspondence and Twin Set Designs.

dscn2314.JPGdscn2309.JPGSpeaking of designs, I did take your Handed Yes, Fingered No mitt pattern (have you seen how many folks have already made these?) and adapted it to make my first ever pair of mittens.  Dale was rather convinced that as a sock knitter I should not be so pleased with myself for making mittens.  (He’s certain socks are more challenging.)  Nonetheless, I love my mittens and am rather surprised it took me this long to get around to them.  I made them with 2 of the 5 balls of Mini Mochi  that I had picked up a few months ago.  Of course I had to do something with the remaining and decided to make up a beret pattern.  No, I didn’t take notes, but might go back and recreate it as I’m pleased with the head band.  It’s 2X1 ribbing with a row of eyelet and folded back on itself which gives it a nice semi-scalloped edge.  Then on the inside I picked up and crocheted an inner band to keep it from getting stretched out of shape.  The colors are very happy.

dscn2312.JPGdscn2313.JPGI’ve made progress on Sea Glass too.  I’m at 6 and 1/2 repeats of the basketweave and think I’ll do an extra repeat for some added length.  I love the Alpaca Lace yarn, such nice color play and it slips along the needle so smoothly.  I’ll probably take a break on it during the Olympics though.  I have lots of WIPs to wrestle and a shrug to frog and maybe a mini-shawl to finish up.  As for WIPs, the Cinnamon Tee is on the list as are A Stitch Away from Genius and Not So Naivedscn2316.JPGHere’s the current state of Not So Naive.  Lots to go there, but it knits very quickly, so I’m optimistic.  A Stitch Away from Genius only needs buttons and some embroidery embellishment.  Cinnamon Tee is just as I left it last summer.  Quite a lot to do.

Hope your weekend has been a fun one.

Love, Jan