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Archive for July, 2010


Sisters – always watching your back…

Dear Jan,

24.jpgAs exasperating as it was at the time, I’m glad you spotted that mis-twisted cable before I entered my gansey in the MN State Fair.  Not that I expect a ribbon, but if that were the reason I don’t get one, what an avoidable disappointment.

122.jpgI sat down today to fix it.  I snipped the bar at the center of the cable in the row of knitting immediately above the cable twist and unraveled a couple of stitches in each direction.

56.jpg64.jpg74.jpgMounting the cable stitches on a darning needle with the proper stitch, I then grafted them to the row above.   Here it is before and after tidying the graft up.

82.jpg91.jpgThreading the ends to the wrong side, I then set about making as invisible a repair as I could.  With yarn of this weight, splitting into plies and weaving ends in separately in as many directions as possible helps a lot with invisibility.

101.jpg142.jpgShaving the ends off rather than a sharp snip and then a little massaging with the fingers results in the ends nearly melting into the background.  See the difference in the close up – the top yarn was snipped and the bottom yarn was kind of feathered with the scissors in a shaving motion.  Which do you think will be most noticeable?

113.jpgTa da! Finished!  …wait, what?  Dang, you didn’t tell me about the mis-twisted cable on the other side of the tree.

18.jpg131.jpgYes, kiddens, the second time isn’t very exciting, but it did go a lot faster, didn’t it?

Love,

Ellen

I need a de-fiber-illator…

Dear Jan,

Gathering photos of my vacation knitting, I realized that I’m kind of vibrating between projects rather than pumping out finished objects.  Ah, well, they did suit their own purposes.

15.jpgLike instant semi-mindless, second glass of wine of the night knitting while hanging out at the beach house (Hemlock Ring Blanket).

16.jpgOr focused, early morning quiet before everyone is up knitting (Hanemi shawl).

141.jpgOr beach knitting that reflects the colors of the surf, kind of a sea shell (Tune).

171.jpgOr reflective and beautiful, for enjoying the moment (Rimfrost).

I guess I took enough knitting along that I felt no need to acquire fiber, despite the wool farm and alpaca ranch on the island.  That didn’t keep me from being delighted to come home to my birthday box from you.

121.jpg It is going to be a hoot to spin up the merino/silk blend you sent, in colors that I can wear to an Ohio State game.

111.jpgAnd don’t you think the possum yarn (grey) and merino (blues) that you gave me set off the brushed nickle shawl pin (a Romi design) that Karen gave me?  Did you two plan this?

Whether you did or not, thank you for these and for the other knitterly goodies you tucked in the box.

44.jpg55.jpgI also came home to the singles I had spun from Erica’s gift of handpainted fiber.  I finished plying them today and I think I’ve found my state fair spinning entry.  460 yards of merino, handpainted by Erica, longish draw right from the roving with minimal pre-drafting, a two-ply fine fingering weight.  She was masterful with the colorway and I am very happy with how the spinning turned out.

36.jpgI am trying my best to keep these two out of all of this.  Wish me luck.

Love,

Ellen

Jiggity jog…

Dear Jan,

63.jpg73.jpgHome again, and despite Wilson’s dream that the kitties grew to be huge and ugly while we were gone, we found them to be every bit as adorable and even more loving than when we left.  (As I watch them tearing around in the living room while I write this, I’m thinking more destructive, too, but I guess we knew what we were getting into so shouldn’t complain.)

Vacation had everything I could want.

321.jpg17.jpg34.jpg37.jpg59.jpg54.jpg65.jpg109.jpgLots of the people we love.

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85.jpg43.jpg35.jpgFood, glorious food!

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133.jpg84.jpg23.jpgBeautiful surroundings.

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68.jpgCatching the brass ring on the oldest carousel in the nation.

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53.jpgThe wedding of the woman, who, as a baby, was so adorable she convinced Wilson and I that we needed one of those, too.

33.jpg13.jpgCats.

27.jpgDog.

81.jpgAnd coming home to kitties.

Some knitting, too, but maybe that will wait for another post.

Love to you,

Ellen

Ohio Weekend

Dear Ellen,

dsc00734.JPGI did a quick trip to Ohio this past weekend.  It was very good.  I really enjoyed the drive back as I had great company in the car with me.  Ken had just finished his workshop at Trinity University, so I picked him up and we headed west.  The first two hours were filled with great conversation.  Our nephew is quite the thinker.  I don’t agree with his positions on everything, but you can follow his logic and our core principles seem to be pretty darned close.  We get into differences when we work on the execution of those principles.  I think I’m a bit more bounded by the experience that comes with, well, experience, so I’m a good bit more pragmatic in my final views on various policies and actions.  We did have to break off the talk so he could do some homework.  He drove the last couple hours which gave me a chance to make some progress on sock number two of Tropical Gorillas.  I’m about halfway down the cuff now.

dsc00733.JPGdsc00736.JPGOnce in Ohio I had a great steak dinner with Tim and Patty (and Ken!).  Ken had to leave after dinner, but then the three of us stayed out on their porch for a while.  I love that dsc00735.JPGswing.  Tim and I fed the chickens some table scraps and obligatory photos were taken.  In the morning I headed south so I could meet Terry for late breakfast.  We had a short visit, it was good to see him, but the conversation wasn’t as easy as with Ken.  Not awkward…but not bubbling along.  We were both fine with that.  We looked around for Radio Shacks after eating.  I had forgotten my phone charger and my phone was stone cold dead, a condition which leaves me feeling very uneasy.  We drove around to several locations, only to find they had closed.  In fact, many of the places around there were closed — and it’s not too far from where you lived in Hilliard.  After I dropped him off I did find one and it was right next to a PetSmart.  That gave me an inspired idea for the next phase of the trip — a cat for Mom!  How better to take the attention off of you than by injecting a new pet into the equation?  No, I didn’t get it right there, I just decided that as soon as I got to Marietta I would drag Mom out to get one.

dsc00744.JPGdsc00777.JPGAnd so I did…I tried to talk her into pedicures first, having wanted to maximize the time we had just the two of us, but that was a no go.   She was quite eager about the cat though.  We went to “We Luv Pets” the Marietta knock-off version of PetSmart and bought all the gear and stuff and then picked out a kitty.  Rather, she met the one cat that they had remaining in the adoption center and decided she was the one.  She was hiding in her litter box at the store.  (The cat, not Mom.)  And it bothered me a bit that she might be making a mistake since the cat was so shy and I was concerned about it warming up to her, but the girls working there said she was really very loving, but seemed to hide whenever more than a few people were around.  dsc00782.JPGdsc00785.JPGThat made me feel better and I have to say, I think she’ll work out quite well. When we got back to the apartment she immediately hid behind the couch.  After letting her be for about a half hour, I got her out so Mom would stop fretting and put her in Mom’s lap.  She settled right in and hid back under Mom’s arm.  Then she gradually opened up to the goings on in the room.  When John came in she went right back behind the couch.  Smart cat.  In the evening when he left, she came out again and ended up sleeping right next to Mom.  She stayed out the next morning too…and proved she knew where her litter box was and was very dainty in using it properly.  And she really was very loving and dsc00780.JPGvery insistent on Mom petting her.  When John came in after breakfast, she hid again, but then came out and settled down with him around too.  Evidently she likes being the center of attention.  This last shot was not cropped at all…it is the result of her wanting her “close up!”

At first Mom wanted to immediately name her “Tessie II”, but now she’s going to wait to see her personality fully emerge and will probably name her something else.  I personally like “Jinx” or maybe “Felix” even though she is a female.  She’s very slinky, has an incredibly long neck and very triangular face for an American Shorthair, so I suspect she’s got something else in her genes.  On the second day she was earnestly into grooming and stretching and just luxuriating in surrounds that didn’t include barking dogs, ferrets and little kids poking fingers at her.

dsc00787.JPGdsc00788.JPGI left around 2:00 PM, got home around 8:00 PM, did a bit of knitting on TGIF and we turned in.  Yesterday we ran up to Pennsylvania to meet with the architects.  Left with a tad bit of sticker shock, but not too much.  The fact that the current quote includes the wells, the geothermal, the 1,000 ft. driveway, the septic field and other stuff that’s not technically the house made it better.  We do need to get the Vienna townhouse sold if we want to comfortably break ground this fall though.  dsc00789.JPGWe picked up a fabulous birthday cake from Musser’s grocery and headed back to DC where I got birthday wishes and a dress form from Dale.  I also enjoyed opening my box from you via Nana Rose.  LOVE the little pouch out of the skull and cross bones fabric and even more that you remembered me saying how much I liked that fabric.  The larger bag has some really finely crafted construction — she’s quite talented.  Thanks for remembering!  (I’m counting this as my thank you note!)

Enough for now!  Love, Jan, your older, but younger at heart, sister.

Getting Started

Dear Ellen,

dsc00728.JPGI’ve pulled together the materials I needed, got the instructions and have moved forward on  certificationas a Level I Master Knitter.  The first three swatches are complete and I may knock out another one or two today.  My intent is to have swatches complete by fall, the questions all answered by Christmas and the project hat done by New Year’s.  We’ll see if I stay on track for that.  If I were to knuckle down and just work on this, I’m pretty sure I’d be done in a dsc00729.JPGfew weeks, but there are so many other fun knitting opportunities that I can’t do that.  I am most definitely NOT monogamous.  And I just made promised to several folks for hand-knit items — most for Christmas gifts, but they’ll still need to be underway soon as I just can’t crack out 3 pair of socks and 2 pair of fingerless gloves overnight.  I’m not entirely sure about the yarn I’m using.  It’s elann Highland Wool.  The issue is the amount of spin.  It’s not spun quite as tightly as dsc00727.JPGI think I’d like for helping to even out tension in areas like ribbing.  In the body of the swatches, I’m very happy with it, but the ribbing maintained unevenness, even after wet blocking.  I realize that ribbing can be like that, but I’m wondering if I’ll end up repeating those swatches as a result.  We’ll see.  If I’m energetic later in the process I may redo them anyway — and take extra care to maintain even stitches for that little bit of ribbing there.

dsc00725.JPGI also hand washed and then machine dried my german knee socks.  They do fit fine now, but the ease at the top makes me wonder how long one would wear them before they started drooping.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be adding the elastic thread.  That’s okay, it won’t take long.  The hardest part will be getting out to find the elastic.

Those kittens keep getting cuter and cuter!  I hope I get to meet them sooner than later.  There might be a small treat in your birthday box intended for them.  I hope they’re “crunch lovers.”

Love, Jan

Weekend Visitors Part II

Dear Ellen,

dsc00724.JPGAfter we Patty left Sunday morning, we through the sheets and towels in the wash and then made up beds for our next arrivals…Chris, Jim and Tom.  They arrived in time for the World Cup finals.  We enjoyed watching, but were a little sad about the outcome.  You may remember that they lived in Holland for four years and I’ve been to the Netherlands many times.  So, our family room was filled with people rooting for the Orange Men.  Other than the cup finals we didn’t do a lot…Dale cooked another great dinner and they left early in the morning.  Lots of stops for them on their vacation driving from Tampa to Maine and back — family visits, friend visits and campus visits.  (How is it possible that Tom is a High School senior this fall!)  We loved seeing them.

Love, Jan

Counting down kittens…

Dear Jan,

62.jpgYesterday we were three,

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72.jpgand today we are two.  Our brother went home with Kathleen today where he is going to be very much loved.

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22.jpg32.jpg42.jpg52.jpgEllen did a magic trick to distract us.  She  chopped a really long sock in two, then by waving a tiny metal wand around and whispering the magic word, “Kittener”, she made it one again.

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12.jpgThere is a funny whirring sound coming from upstairs.  And we hear Ellen murmuring, “Thank you, Erica!” at all hours of the day and night. We don’t know what long draw from a hand-painted merino top means.  Maybe when we’re older.

Wilson says that the household has now reached a stable number of kitties.  We aren’t sure about a stable number – so far we haven’t seen a single pony.

If we were more certain about dogs, we’d send our love to Max and Ruby.

Selkie and Noni*

*so-called No Name Kitty.  Someday we hope to replace that with an actual name.

Weekend Visitors Part I

Dear Ellen,

dsc00635.JPGdsc00632.JPGAs you know, we’ve got the welcome mat out this weekend.  First up has been a very enjoyable couple of days with Patty and Ken.  We dropped Ken off at a workshop h is attending at Trinity University this week, but only after Patty and I made a trip to the memorials to see the Vietnam Memorial and get a bit wet in the on-again, off-again rain.  We came home, had grilled burgers (ready and waiting for us thanks to Dale!) and then headed out the door with Ken in tow.  We found his check-in point, bid him a great week and then headed across town to the National Cathedral.

dsc00670.JPGdsc00649.JPGdsc00684.JPGI can’t believe it’s taken so long for me to finally visit our cathedral.  It’s dsc00642.JPGdsc00660.JPGdsc00652.JPGa truly stunning piece of architecture.  We wandered through the Bishop’s garden, enjoying roses, sculptures, bees and butterflies.  We strolled through the nave and the apses and took in the ceilings and the visually dsc00664.JPGstriking stained glass windows including one commemorating the Battle of Midway.  And yes, we shopped in the gift shop.  We both found some nice things…Patty got a replica of this stained glass window and I found a lovely silk angels scarf for someone’s birthday later this month.

I’m sure she’ll love it.*

dsc00720.JPGOnce home we had delicious tortilla soup (again, courtesy of Dale) and watched a movie.  I worked on Tropical Gorillas while doing so.  I’ve got one more decrease and the toe grafting left on sock number one.  I would have stayed up to finish, but wanted to burn photos from our day to a CD for Patty to take with her and knock out this post, so I held off the finishing of the first sock till tomorrow.  Patty leaves early in the morning and then early afternoon we should see the arrival of Chris, Jim and Tom — in time for the Netherlands v. Spain finals of the World Cup!

Love, Jan

*Marian has a July birthday too.  😉

It’s a-llama-ing…

…how much fiber I’m acquiring, including a bonus box of two llama fleeces that arrived this week from my wonderful MIL.  She has friends who have llamas who needed shearing and were looking for someone who might do something with the fleece and she jumped right in.  This is just like her – always thinking about others.  I am lucky to be married to W and not just for him – his parents are almost worth marrying a lout to have as in-laws!

11.jpg21.jpgThe fleeces are wonderfully soft.  The first, brown and cream, is a little hairy and has a lot more vegetable matter and second cuts than the second fleece.  It’s bigger, too, so I’m wondering if it is an older animal.  Though it will be more tedious to clean, there is some very soft fiber in there. (Second cuts are where the shearer didn’t cut close enough to the skin the first time and they go back to cut again, resulting in very short fibers that are difficult if not impossible to spin.)

31.jpg41.jpg51.jpg61.jpgThere is no other word than dreamy for the second.  It is almost a pastel version of the first, caramel where the other was brown, misty white instead of cream.  That touch of gray is a lovely harmonizing note.  This may have been the second animal sheared, too, as the number of second cuts are far fewer.

71.jpg8.jpg10.jpgIn case you were wondering about the kitties, they are still cute.  They even use the cat furniture.  Mostly as a boxing ring, but at least they are using it!  9.jpg

You and I never boxed when we were little, did we?

Love,

Ellen

A square deal from Dr. Yarn

Disclaimer:  the advice expressed here is solely that of Dr. Yarn.  Twinset neither denies or agrees with them.  Use at your own risk.

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needles-2001.jpg

Dear Readers,

This square needle thing has reared its ugly head again. Please look in Volume 5, Appendix C, footnote 6 of my Introduction to Knitting. You will see that I positively recommend a “Don’t Use.”

I know that with the emphasis on health some rogue knitter claims that if you use square needles your arthritis will go away, along with carpal tunnel syndrome and high blood pressure. Don’t believe it! Several of the manufacturers aren’t careful enough. The square corners are too sharp and you will cut your fingers and bleed on the yarn. This would be bad.

A popular myth is that square needles don’t change the yarn to “squareness.”  It does. The smooth flowing softness of a garment becomes a mess of square turns.

If you have kitties, their tiny claws will more easily hold on to the squared knit products. Hence, the kitties can unravel a sweater in less time than Victor Borge can play the minute waltz (which is 58 seconds, by the way).

Remember the difficulty we had getting even small quantities of square yarn during the Valdez oil spill in Alaska? Can you imagine what it will be like with the oil leak in the Gulf?! I’ll bet most of you true knitters would really be put out if you tried to use square yarn covered with oil. Probably your needles would slip right out of your hands.

No research has been done on using square needles with square yarn, so I’ m reserving judgment on that one
Dr. Yarn