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

Archive for March, 2010


Dear Jan,

I have fallen and I can’t get up.


Left to right:  First attempt at drop spindling, second go (same day – 8 hours later), and third go.  Besides being enthralled with it, I’ve learned that it is economical to spin finer yarn.  The stuff on the right took me about twice as long to spin, and is about twice as long, too, as the stuff in the middle.

All are mixed wools, dyed and prepared batts by Susan Hensel.  She is a spinning artist.  I am just happy to claim to be a spinner.

We’ll see how try #3 at spinning wheels goes tomorrow.









Control May be an Issue

Dear Ellen,

dscn2543.JPGFelting with the front loader did work great for the Mini Mitered Bag.  However, it did go through the whole cycle.  I need another felting project that requires mid-course checking to be sure I can rely on our machine for the range of my felting needs.  Here’s the little bag post-felting.  It yielded a very dense fabric with great structure.  I took this shot prior to pinning it in place folded over.  I’d like that folded top to be in the memory of the fabric.  I manipulated the bag to introduce that narrowing at the neck to support a nice fold at that point.  I think I’ll attach a button and loop to secure it, but overall am very pleased.  The I-cord handle is perfect.  I think this will be a gift for 7 year old Ava who is over in Japan right now.  (John and Katie’s daughter…John was my Chief Staff Officer when I was in Naples at the Telecom Area Master Station.)  Ava has also asked for an orange, purple and pink scarf with sparkles in it.  I’ll be working on that soon.

Love, Jan

Felting Experimentation

Dear Ellen,

dscn2535.JPGMy Mini Mochi Bag (not yet on Ravelry) is knit up and ready to felt.  Actually, can you hear?  That’s the washing machine in the background.  It’s my first trial of using a front loader for felting, so I’m not sure how this will turn out.  I’ll certainly let you know.  This is the project bag from the course you encouraged me to take from Annie Modesitt’s online courses.  I’ve really enjoyed it, her videos are so clear and well laid out.  I haven’t been part of the chats as they are just too late at night for me.  Too bad.  I’m glad she save’s the transcripts so you can read back through them.  It was a fun little knit…I was far more consistent on the second half.  I guess I just got more serious about it…the first half was done at my desk in between other tasks.  The second was in my usual knitting spot and I was focused.  If you look closely you can see where things gain better structure and consistency.  Well, okay, you don’t have to look that closely.

dscn2540.JPGdscn2531.JPGIt was a very busy week including a trip to the west coast.  I got another sock done, so Hugs and Kisses are up to about 80% done.  I’m verifying the pattern as I go, so once I’m finished I should be able to put it up pretty quickly.  Seems like this weekend flew by, an event tonight for Dale’s volunteer consulting work (fundraiser dinner for a homeless shelter here in Alexandria) and then back to the grind.  Here’s a shot of where I seem to spend so much of my time.

dscn2533.JPGLook who decided to bring her babies into the world under our rafters!

Love, Jan


Dear Jan,

15.jpgMy baby sweater, Norwegian Hugs, is finished, and good thing, too.  Kaiden, for whom it is intended, was born a big boy and isn’t getting any smaller.  Still, even with his 23″ of length on Day 1, I think this sweater will fit for a good long time.

The basic facts:  Dale of Norway pattern 1022 Geilo Child, knit in Dalegarn Baby Ull.  Needles sizes 0 and 2.  It took about 2.5 skeins of the navy, most of 2 skeins of the lighter blue, and not too much at all of the greens and yellow.

52.jpgWhat I like:

The colorway – I didn’t come up with it myself, just copied the wonderfully innovative palette suggested.

The colorwork – I love the intuitive stacking of diamonds, with that fun diagonal work at the center front.  And the shoulder work builds on and integrates it all.

What I would change (if possible):

The pattern instructions – There may have been something lost in translation, but it sure helped that I had knit a Norwegian sweater before and knew my way around.  And why didn’t they have you steek the neck and sleeves (I did, anyway)?  That is a hallmark of Norwegian sweaters and avoids knitting colorwork back and forth, a challenge even for the experienced. Probably my biggest gripe – they didn’t supply a schematic diagram of the sweater.  For shame!

The gauge: You don’t need a gauge swatch for baby sweaters, right?  Hah!  If I’d checked my gauge I could have either knit a smaller size and gotten it done faster, or I could have knit a smaller gauge and gotten a nicer fabric.  The former is a minor victory, I enjoyed this knit and thinking about the baby who was arriving to wear it, but the latter is a bigger deal.  I knew from my use of superwash for Wilson’s Skull Cap that really it isn’t ideal for colorwork and knitting it tighter would crisp up the pattern.  Why I didn’t apply that here, I don’t know.

22.jpg32.jpgInadvertently, I proved that last concept to myself when I caught myself knitting a few rows of the sleeves with the cuff needle, a 0 instead of a 2.  Look carefully at the difference between the size 0 needle (sleeve cuff to the left) and the size 2 results (bottom hem to the right).  Perhaps it doesn’t scream at you, but in person, it is significant.  Perhaps there will be a grandbaby or grandniece/nephew someday for whom I can knit this sweater again, with improvements.  I am ready and waiting to get started. 😉


42.jpgAll said though, I am calling this one a success.  That I got to knit it for this baby, one who we had long anticipated, made the entire experience satisfying indeed.

Welcome to this craziness we call life, Kaiden!



Rim shot (or was that an air ball?)…

Dear Jan,

After the flurry of baby knitting* and Olympic knitting, I am finally back to projects started long ago.  Many Moments of Grace is one that my fingers were itching to knit after all the Bohus fun of Ravelympics.  The Bohus Stickning group on Ravelry, by the way, is simply wonderful.  Very supportive and helpful, and very knowledgeable about Bohus.

61.jpgMMG, aka Rimfrost, is unusual for both Bohus designs and usual sweater patterns.  It is constructed with a set in yoke.  You knit what looks like a camisole with a deep neckline, then pick up stitches around the neckline and knit in towards the collar.  I decided to try knitting it from the top down so I could get the yoke knit early – both for faster gratification and so I could accurately try it on for size.  Finally, finally, after casting on back in November, I got both shoulders knit and bridged between them so I could pick up for the yoke.

71.jpg8.jpg10.jpgUm, take a close look at that picture.  Yes, there is a twist in one shoulder strap.  At least I am pretty good at fixing this sort of thing – I sure practice enough!  The usual process worked well:  pick up a row of stitches on each needle, with one row between; clip a stitch in the middle of the middle row and unravel that row, and Kitchener it back together after untwisting.  It didn’t turn out half bad.

121.jpg111.jpgI’m now on my way into the colorwork (back of pick up row shown on left, front on right).  For Bohus design, this yoke is also unusual in the number of single color rounds in the design, sedately lovely instead of thrillingly complex.  After all that repair excitement, I am just fine with that.

Yours in bland knitting,


*Still need to sew clasps on that baby Norgie and I promise photos then!

March Wisdom from Dr. Yarn

Dear Jan,

I’ve heard once more from our friend, Dr. Yarn.  He is thinking globally and acting locally with this month’s edition.  As always, I have promised him a percentage of the income we make from syndication of his columns.


Q. Is it my imagination, or is knitting catching on around the world?
picture-6.pngA. You are correct and very perceptive. One good example that would prove the point is that National Geographical is putting out an issue devoted entirely to knitting. Of course, they requested that I review an advanced copy.  It has some cute pictures of lions and elephants playing with large yarn balls and some darling shots of sweaters on African Flying Squirrels.

Knitting is a worldwide pursuit in that there is one in-depth article that covers Laplanders knitting heavy coats and people from the tropics knitting tiny things that barely do a cover-up job.

The military is helping to spread the trend also. There will be one fine article on men and women in our armed forces knitting things for the children where they are stationed. They also give some finished garments to terrorists and tell them the outfits will stop bullets (actually they won’t). There will be a full-page picture story on an Admiral knitting some gifts while mortar shells are falling in the compound.

You will receive a notice in the mail soon asking if you want to reserve an advance copy of a leather bound version for only $29.95.  Your name will be embossed for an additional $10.00. This issue will definitely be a collector’s item and will increase in value over the years.

Thanks for this timely, geopolitical question.

Dr. Yarn

On the Road Again

Dear Ellen,

This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 3:30 AM so as to make it to Reagan International in time for a series of flights that would take me to Monterey, CA.  I’m speaking in one of the classes at the Navy Postgraduate School Information Professional Center of Excellence in the morning and then heading to San Diego.  Tuesday morning I speak at a Joint Tactical Radio System S&T conference and then get on the red eye to head back to DC, arriving at 8:30 AM Wednesday and then hustling into the Pentagon in time to give a briefing on future netcentric investment strategies at 10:00 PM.

dscn2530.JPGAll this and what I’d really like to do is get home and finish my little mitered bag.  I enrolled in Annie Modesitt’s on line course and it’s quite fun!  When I should have been packing, I was mitering.  I didn’t have enough time to spare to finish it, but I did get a good bit of progress on my class bag.  As I was rushing, it’s a bit wonky, but I’m putting a lot of faith into the felting of it to erase my sins.  I didn’t bring it with me — too many balls of yarn and a desire to finish the samples and pattern for the Hugs and Kisses socks.  I think I may be able to have both complete by the end of the trip.  Then I can finish off that little bag! (Then I’ll probably do it again, with more precision and in other colors!)

Love, Jan

If this is Tuesday, I must be knitting…

Hi, Jan,

Actually, I knit pretty much every day this week, and many of them with friends.

Monday night was our regular knitting group, this month at Cafe Latte.  CL’s turtle cake comes with a statement from the surgeon general on it, it changes your blood chemistry that fast.  I managed to resist, getting my indulgence from the rich knitting going on around me.

31.jpgLisa literally took the sweater off her husband’s back to show it off to us.  I saw P in it the other night, and if you think it looks good on her, you should see it on him!

12.jpgKathleen finished her entrelac stole – wow!  It was worth the wait.  I think she has been working on this, in between other projects, ever since I met her over a year ago.  It blocked out to a wonderful fabric and the colors are perfect for her.

21.jpgGail is close to finishing her Hanne Falkenberg kit.  She reports that HF was extremely helpful when she ran short of a color and even sent her another skein – for free.

14.jpgI paid for Thursday’s knitting adventures – a charity knit at Lisa’s house.  She raises scholarship funds for food science undergrads by doing a silent auction  item of knitting and fellowship, supplying wonderful nibbles and yarn – Lion Brand cashmere blend.  So far I like it – nice to knit, fast-working Aran weight, and it will be soft and washable – perfect blend of luxury, economy, and practicality that makes it exceptional for gifting.  I don’t like the project I started – improvising to fit a pattern this wasn’t meant to fit – so that will be frogged without note.

41.jpgSaturday brought my work club’s outing to StevenBe: A Yarn Garage Workshop.  This joint was created out of the passion of Steven Berg, aka the Glitter Knitter, who not only runs one of the most entertaining yarn stores in the Twin Cities, the Yarn Garage, but is one of the most knowledgeable people I know about yarn and design.  AND one of the most giving, socially-concious people I know, too.

51.jpgSteven located his new endeavor, StevenBe, right in the heart of one of the rougher neighborhoods of Minneapolis.  He is hiring people from the neighborhood to help him out with maintenance, gardening, repairs.  He caters his events from local, not chain, eateries (yesterday’s lunch – Turtle Bread‘s artichoke soup and pesto salad – Dr. K knows what I’m saying).  He is creating a space for artists – fiber, musical, literary – to come and enjoy each other and knit.  He overtly states he isn’t expecting people to only knit on yarn from his stores or to pay for advice – what a breath of fresh air.  There are fee-based luncheons and classes, but anyone can stop in and browse the yarn at any time and relax and knit a bit.  You’ll meet Steven when you are here for Yarnover.

13.jpgThe only bad thing I can say about Steven is he has a streak of enabler in him.  I’ll let you figure this one out, and then you may mock me.  (Just like a drug dealer, the first one is always free.)

That’s the spin around from here,



A bronze gansey…

Dear Jan,

At last it is done, my bronze colored gansey.  Just under the wire for a WIPs Dancing medal.

3.jpgI am so thankful for the loophole in the rules that let us knit until midnight PST instead of stopping with closing ceremonies.  I decided to reknit the neck because it was way too sloppy, and I had plenty of time to do it, having finished the last sleeve Saturday evening.  I carefully redesigned, added some short rows to better fit the nape of my neck and got well into the ribbing. Upon trying it on, I discovered that the initials worked into the lower front left had disappeared.  Except they hadn’t – they were now on the lower back right, as I had knit the neck on backwards.  Bum initials are not considered traditional.

I ripped it all out, reknit it again, and finished the neck ribbing a bit after the Olympic flame had been extinguished.  Weaving in ends took a few more minutes, so I finished up as the late night show with more closing ceremonies came on, well before the deadline, though later than I’d intended.

11.jpgI even got it blocked before going to bed so I could wear it to work today.  I really enjoyed it – this yarn is dynamite.  Green Mountain Spinnery Sylvan Spirit is a blend of tencel and wool and it results in a hand that is drapey but resilient, with great stitch definition.  I am much happier with the new neckline (and am happy that the initials are in the front).

7.jpg I  originally planned to write this up as a pattern, but I got very creative in places.  Describing some of my acrobatics is just a bit too daunting.  The next one I’ll go about planning a bit differently and that will be the one I write up.

I think I’ll head to bed and start dreaming up that next design.