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Archive for September, 2010


IEE’s…

Dear Jan,

12.jpgI know you are too familiar with IED’s, but are you also alert to IEE’s?  Yes, I mean the highly dangerous Improvised Explosive Eggplants.  Happily, the front of the cabinet was the only casualty.

23.jpg32.jpgOther excitement this weekend included the blocking of Annie’s Hemlock Ring Blanket (traditional wet block and pin method) and the partial blocking of Karen’s (non-traditional stretch in friends hands and steam with Scunci steamer - partial because you really don’t want to block your friends’ hands).  We four (Annie, Karen, Lisa and myself) are leading a workshop in a couple of weekends up in Ely, using the Rainey/Flood adaptation of the Hemlock Ring doily pattern as the basis of teaching a variety of knitting skills.

41.jpgIt seems some of us can sleep through anything, and now it is time for me to get to sleep, too.  Darn long weekends have to go and end sometime.

Love,

Ellen

What’s Nupp?

Dear Ellen,

dsc00863.JPGI loved your little froggy visitor and had to show you a toady friend I discovered on our  last trip to Fair Winds.  I helped him escape Ruby out of harm’s way.

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dsc00997.JPGWe made it back to the farm this weekend as well.  And we spent our first night on our property!  Dale was resistant at first, but I think if you were to ask him now, he’d claim it was his idea.  We had a wonderful time.  dsc00996.JPGdsc00999.JPGWe stopped by the mercantile (I love that our future county has a mercantile) and picked up a pair of bib overalls for Dale so he can avoid constantly having to pull up his jeans.  He loved them…I may have a struggle to keep them on the farm!  We got a lot of work done both days and spent a delicious night by the fire listening to the insects, looking at the stars and roasting marshmallows.  dsc01009.JPGdsc01010.JPGHere Dale is searching for an honest man ridiculing my baby Coleman lantern.  However, I proved that by using it, it is possible to knit by the campfire, though I ended up correcting a few issues the next day.  We will be camping again soon…Dale went out and bought another sleeping bag and a blow-up queen-sized airbed at the sale at Sport’s Authority today — a sure sing that he’s hooked.  A portable camp toilet is on my wish list, though I managed in the woods just fine.

dsc01021.JPGdsc01020.JPGdsc01018-1.JPGThe knitting I was doing is the Annis Shawlette from Knitty.com.  I’m calling it my Crescent Beach Shawlette because the pattern has a lovely crescent shape to it and the colorway is Ocean Memories which brings back college memories of visiting the ocean at Crescent Beach, FL when I was a student at UF.  Man, I’m flying through this pattern!  LOTS of fun once you get the first few rows out of the way.  And this was my first experience with nupps, so I had a bit of dsc01023.JPGexperimenting and learning to do.  For instance, I found that you can’t be too inattentive when you are completing the nupps.  The first stage is easy, in same loop *K1, YO* three times, K1 so you end up with 7 live stitches in one loop.  Coming back on the purl side you purl all 7 loops together.  dsc01024.JPG(Thank goodness for pointy tipped lace needles!)  My issue was that I tended to either realize I was at the nupp a loop too late (I kept trying to purl the first loop of the nupp as its own stitch) or I managed to drop a loop during the operation.  In my defense, remember that this was knitting by the campfire!  No worries though, I corrected my occasional dropped loop or extra stitch in the daylight by dropping back a row to redo or as is seen in the photos, by doing a bit dsc01025.JPGof stitch collection after the fact.  Very easy — I just found a bit of the same color repeat from the end of the ball, wove it in to catch at the back of the nupp, brought the needle to the front at the top of the nupp where the loops are collected on the single purl stitch, caught the loose loop and returned dsc01026.JPGthe needle back through the same hole pulling the top of the loop through to the back and then securing the yarn end.  All better. I only have 15 or so rows to go and it’s all easy stockinette short rows.  These introduce the nice crescent curve to this shawl.  A fun knit and fast.

dsc01017.JPGMaking progress on my Hsssssy Fit Mitts too…they’re Stephen West’s Diamondback Mitts.  I’m making them for a friend’s brother — he’s been just great helping with challenges her family has had and works outside in all weather, so thought they’d be a nice way to show him some appreciation.  I love the pattern, but am thinking I’d reverse the rows of main color so that the cabled stitches are in the second row vice the first row of main color rows.  As it is now, the cable stitch is worked over some already stretched stitches as they’ve been slipped over the contrasting color.  The look is fine, it works fine, I’m just curious to see if the stitches look a little more even that way.  I’ll have to see.

dsc01027.JPGdsc01028.JPGTGIF is temporarily finished.  I say temporarily as I think that in about 30 minutes I’ll be downstairs ripping out half of the shawl collar/button band.  STUPID mistake on my part regards buttonhole placement.  The distance of the lower buttonhole from the bottom edge is way out of proportion with the width of the button band itself.  I knew it and yet decided it wouldn’t matter much and pressed ahead to include sewing on buttons.  And I decided I needed four buttons — which places the top button a little too high to let the shawl collar open like it wants to.  dsc01030.JPGOnce again, I should have trusted my instincts when the warning in my head popped up in the first place.  After living with it for about a week and a half, I know I have to go back and do it right — three buttons, better placement…and maybe a different bind-off.  I may not get back to it for a few weeks though…I’m trying to stay on task with Single Skein September knitting.

It will be another crazy week at the Pentagon.  Luckily only 4 days thanks to the holiday!  Hope you had a great Labor Day and have a great week.

Love, Jan

Sometimes big days start out little…

Dear Jan,

1.jpgWe had a little visitor come in with the morning paper today.  I guess that is one reason to not go to the internet-only version.  I’m not sure it will sway me (the hard copy doesn’t do the funny scroll-overs on XKCD, after all), but we enjoyed our breakfast guest.

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3.jpgWilson went off to work, and I worked from home.  At least I did until I heard SQUEEAL-BANG!!! in front of the house.  Two high schools students, rushing on an errand on their lunchbreak, ended up taking a dead end into the woods at the curve in the road.  You can barely see their car in the photo, it got that deep into the trees.  Thankfully, by the time I was out there they were out of the car and looked shaken up but otherwise OK.  I called 911, brought one of them a jacket (it was chilly today and he was in short sleeves and was rattled, he needed a hug more than the jacket, but I don’t think that would have been accepted), and then got out of the way.   I felt for the guys, but I hope their hard-but-not-horrible lesson will be a warning to the other students who come careeming around the bend.  And I bet they are both better drivers from this day forward.

7.jpg6.jpgThe afternoon brought the excitement of having my runner up’s copies of  1000 Fabulous Knit Hats delivered.  It was a thrill to see my pattern in print in a real book!  Annie’s commentary is great, and the book overall is a real inspiration of patterns.  The winner, Harpa Jonsdottir of Iceland, designed an incredible felted and embroidered creation, Flowers, and has several other examples of her unique combination of techniques in the book.  These hats look like they could be homes for fairies - absolutely enchanting.  It is the hat in the lower right corner of the cover - do check it out.

5.jpgAfternoon brought hard core spinning (taking breaks to finish laundry, do a little more work email even though I had the afternoon off, even a modicum of cooking).  Look at what I have to play with - 3 fat bobbins of fine singles which will become 3ply yarn for a future sweater, about two weeks of spinning.

2.jpgI have about twice as many batts of the same fleece remaining so I am feeling pretty good about quantity.  The yarn will be about DK weight once it blooms in the washing.  I am calling this my Selkie yarn - it should be obvious why.

4.jpgAnd that about brings us to the end of our big day.  Some of us were ready for a nap long ago.

Sleep tight!

Love,

Ellen

21.jpg11.jpg31.jpgP.S. Twin Cities readers - don’t miss your chance to take a class on photographing your textiles from the fabulous Gale Zucker of She Shoots Sheep Shots and Shear SpiritThe Yarnery is bringing her in the weekend of September 25th-26th.  Alas, I will be in northern MN that weekend, so why don’t you sign up for the class and give Gale a hug for me?  (Photos courtesy of Gale - note the happy workshop attendees, beautiful textiles given their due with great technique, and even the chance to visit a farm.  Lamb not guaranteed, but I don’t think it is possible to spend time with Gale without having fun.)

Snacks and Chips

Dear Ellen,

dsc00991.JPGThanks for pointing me at the Knitmore Girls for their preemie/newborn hat design contest.  I was in dire need of snack knitting with a challenge, so the design contest was a perfect context.  I poured through the Japanese stitch pattern book, 250 Couture Knit Stitch Patterns by Hitomi Shida and dsc00969.JPGdsc00966.JPGfound a few intriguing patterns that worked out to make what I think is a pretty cute little pattern.  I knit one up in leftover elann Superwash Chunky and one in some leftover dsc00973.JPGTempted Hand Painted Good Grrl.  Since I made them with scraps I’m calling them my Scrap Babies. The two different yarn weights yielded two different sizes — one that will fit a newborn and one that will fit a preemie.  I stayed up late last night to get the pattern finished and entered.  Then I saw your note about how they had extended the deadline.  I’ve downloaded the podcasts, but I guess I should start listening to it if I want this kind of information while it actually helps.

dsc00962.JPGdsc00953.JPGI did some other snack knitting too.  Katie’s Sparkly Scarf is finished and I hope to get my act together enough to put it in the mail by the weekend.  This was a really fun knit.  I ran out of yarn too quickly, but there was  enough for the purpose.  This is one of those scarves that you start at the center back with a provisional cast on and knit to one end and then go back to the center and knit out to the other end so that you can have nicely matching ends, a good design feature for this pattern.  dsc00952.JPGInstead of doing a provisional cast on I did Jenny’s Magic cast on and just put one half on a stitch holder and then knit the first half from the other side.  Then I moved the reserved stitches back to a needle and did the other half.  It looked a little short when I was done, but thanks to the miracle of wet blocking (during which it reminded me of a planaria) it grew to a nice length for an accessory scarf.  I wouldn’t count on it much for actual warmth.

It’s Single Skein September — I haven’t started anything yet, but have ideas for socks (thanks to all the great patterns from Hitomi) and I have at least 2 pairs of mitts for Christmas presents.  I’ll get moving on those tomorrow.

Love, Jan