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Archive for January, 2011


Changes…

Dear Alison (Jan is away in Jamaica, so this one’s for you),

29.jpgI had a wonderful day at StevenBe’s open house yesterday, recruiting some of my wonderful knitting peeps to the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads campaign.

47.jpgAny day spent with Steven leaves you feeling good, but it was especially great to have my buddies along (and to find so much great hat yarn in his sale bins!).

37.jpg Julie’s vest was the only finished object in sight from our group; good thing it was such a great vest to keep up our knitting cred.

As far as the campaign goes, we are, I believe, establishing cred.  We still have a long way to go, but we more than doubled the number of hats we had committed over the last few days from 2% to 5% of the total number needed to cover Congress.  More importantly, I’m already starting to see change.

28.jpgIt’s a little like watching buds respond to the returning light, a barely discernible swelling and coloration that bodes good things.  I’m hearing knitters who, a week ago, said they could never knit a hat for Representative X because they disagree so vehemently with their politics, quietly move to needing to knit for that particular person.  I’m hearing other knitters say that just by thinking about what hat to knit for that politician for whom they’d never vote, that person has become more of, well, a person to them.  And I’m experiencing exactly the same thing myself.

115.jpgSo, the fluffy coating of snow that we got this morning, rather than making me think winter will never end, did nothing more than look beautiful.  Underneath, there is so much change in the works.

(There is also another hat in the works, more on that tomorrow when I hope to lay out the final details on the campaign for our wonderful knitters after you and I chat.)

Love to you and all the generous knitters out there,

Ellen

116.jpgP.S.  Spinning cred.  Not much happening on the wheel, but what there is, is making me happy.

P.P.S.  Don’t forget to check in on the Ravelry group, Warm Hats Not Hot Heads , for great discussion.

Two Things…

Dear Ellen,

Our flight leaves in less than 12 hours and I haven’t started to pack…so, brevity follows –

dsc01962.JPGA new hat for the campaign…will i.d. the recipient later.

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dsc01959.JPGThe winter view we’ll have from our porch next year…it’s from the pile of rocks in front of the porch decking this year.

I’m ready for Jamaica…packed or not!

Love, Jan

Energy…

Dear Jan,

8.jpgWarm Hats Not Hot Heads is making progress, and so am I on knitting (hats, of course).  Here is my first effort, a hat I’m calling Positive Energy.  The pattern, Turbine, is from Wooly Wormhead, and the yarn is from Briar Rose Fibers, Chris’ 4th of July in colorway 7070.

26.jpg35.jpg45.jpg52.jpgI have to say, the hat was easier to knit than it was to photograph.

62.jpg 9.jpgI finally locked her out of the bathroom and got a shot of the crown.  After a good wash and block I got the outdoors shots (first and last of the post), which show the true colors best.  The last shot is the inside of the hat, which I like almost as much as the right side.

114.jpgDespite the arctic air we’ve experienced lately, I’ve been feeling warmed by the response Warm Hats Not Hot Heads has received.  Knitters are knitting hats and claiming the reps they are knitting for (see the list here), and Alison and I are getting lots of ideas from friends and connections on how to execute this effort to use soft, warm hats as a reminder that civil public discourse will help move our country forward for all.  We are actively exploring several avenues to create the most awareness by our Congress.  In the meantime, all who want to participate (and oh, Alison and I hope you will!) please let me know who you are knitting for - you don’t have to finish the hat first, we just want to know how many we might expect.

Update on Warm Hats Not Hot Heads

Editors note, added 1/31/11:  After some investigation about postal security in the federal government, we are recommending  that you send your hat to the district office of your recipient, or better yet if possible, hand deliver your hat at a meet-and-greet type event.  Another alternative is to send a photo of your hat with a note saying it was donated in the recipient’s honor.  We’ve updated and finalized the details for the campaign accordingly - you can read them all in the Warm Hats Not Hot Heads page over on the right sidebar of the blog or in the Ravelry group of the same name.

Hi, everyone,

Alison has some political ins, and she has determined that until we build some publicity for the hat campaign it might be best to hold off on mailing them in.  We don’t want them being set aside by some office worker - we want them to be seen (maybe even anticipated!) by our congresspeople.  I’ve updated the post with details, but here is the plan in brief.

As before, knit a hat for the congressperson of your choice.  Let me know who you’ve knit for when you are finished, and get the hat ready to mail.  Towards the end of February we’ll announce the big mail-off date when we will all send our hats winging towards the offices of our elected officials.  (Hats Off to Thee?  That’s a Minnesota joke.)

In the meantime, Alison and I will explore publicity for the effort so each hat can make its way to where it is intended.

If you know of your congressperson having a meet the public event before the end of February, DO go ahead and take your hat there and present it in person.  That will help create awareness for everyone’s hats.

I know we keep tweaking this, and I apologize for that.  We’re kind of new to this sort of thing.  Thanks for the support and love, anyway.

Best,

Ellen

P.S.  You can check out the list of who has hats waiting for them here.

Nothing but Knitting…Almost

Dear Ellen,

dsc01941.JPGThis week I bring you almost all knitting.  I couldn’t resist including this photo from the Costco in Lancaster County.  I just love that the area businesses make accommodations for all of their customers including the ones who arrive in horse drawn carriages.  I think that kind of respect for differences is very much in keeping with the spirit of the campaign that you and Alison have begun.  As we travel around the Lancaster County area we see again and again how folks with very different beliefs and backgrounds come together to help each other and to help the community.

dsc01945.JPGdsc01942.JPGI’ve begun my part of the campaign.  On our way to and from the building site I worked on using up the yarn leftover from Woodland Vines to make a simple, masculine bucket hat.   The yarn is Briar Rose Fourth of July, a 100% merino…aren’t you using it for one of your hats too?  I cast on 116 stitches and did a bit of K2/P2 ribbing in the round.  Then I switched to a simple knit-purl checkerboard pattern.  After about 6 inches of knitting I did decreases at four equally spaced locations in the round.  I knit 13 stitches in pattern, did a left leaning decrease, a single purl stitch and then a right leaning decrease, then knit 13 more in pattern.  Do that four times and it takes you to the end of the round.  The next row is knit in pattern with knit-purl-knit at the decrease points.  Next row, same as the first decrease row except the number of stitches in pattern is decreased by one…and so on till you’re down to 4 stitches.  A simple gathering of those stitches on the tail, weaving of it and the cast on tail in and you have a very big slouchy hood-hat.  That’s not what I wanted, so into the front loader with a few towels it went.  When it came out I was very pleased.  The pattern stitch does give the fabric a bit of texture.  It fits my head just snug, so I think it will be a good size for anyone with a larger head.  Because it gained some thickness and wind resistance, it should be pretty practical too.

dsc01950.JPGI also pulled out the Mochi Beret that I knit last winter.  I have never worn it, but I’ve used the mittens.  It has sat in the closet patiently waiting for its turn to go out.  And it’s really a nice hat, but you really need to be a beret wearer to put it to use.  I’m just not really a beret wearer.  I’ll send it to one of the women in Congress who doesn’t get covered by a constituent.   Maybe I’ll Google a few for winter images and see if I can spot someone who has evidence of a beret wearing history.

dsc01953.JPGMy Sweater from Down Under is making great progress.  I’ve finished the body to include blocking.  I made it tunic length and wider at the hips to account for my particular weeble shape.  (I wobble, but I don’t fall down.)  I’m loving the Blue Faced Leister yarn — the feel of the fabric and the pleasure of knitting dsc01954.JPGwith it.  I think the stitch definition is exactly what I wanted for this particular project.  I’ll get the sleeves going this week, but won’t stop knitting hats either.

Love, Jan

P.S. I’m tagging my projects for the campaign with “warmhatsnothotheads” — I suggest you do to.  In fact, the thought of a contest for those hats so tagged occurs to me….hmmm…..

Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads

Dear Congressperson,

113.jpgThis hat was hand knit with care for you.  Many of your colleagues will also be receiving hats from knitters of all political stripes and from all around the nation.

Why a hat?  Knit hats meet a simple need for warmth.  They are an every day comfort.  Everyone can use a good hat.

Civil political discourse also meets a simple need - the need for our government to have the best information and insights from many viewpoints.  It would be an every day comfort to me and many other Americans if the airwaves were free of hate-filled rhetoric, and it would lead to good government.   As I’m sure you agree, everyone can use good government.

Thank you for your service, and best regards,

Ellen

P.S.  More information about this effort, Warm Hats, Not Hot Heads can be found at http://twinset.us/?p=3732 or http://spindyeknit.com/2011/01/lets-change-the-world/.

_______________________________________

That’s the letter I’m sending along with the hats I knit for my Senators and Congressman.  I hope many other knitters will join in on our effort to introduce a bit more kindness into the political sphere with the delivery of handknits to our Congresspeople.

Edited 1/31/11 to reflect slight changes to the WHNHH campaign - read them in full in the page on the blog sidebar.

Here is what you need to know.

  1. Knit a hat, a nice hat, out of materials you would be happy to wear.  It doesn’t have to be fancy.  It can be any color and any pattern.
  2. Write an accompanying note to express why you knit the hat.  You are welcome to adapt my note to your use, or check Alison’s blog for her note which she will be posting soon. Please keep your note positive and short for maximum impact.
  3. Mail your hat to the congressperson of your choice.  Prepare to mail your hat to the congressperson of your choice.  We’ll all try to mail at once, and Alison and I will try to do some publicity to make sure the hats make it to the people for whom they are intended.   To find your own House representative, check this website - https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml and to find your Senator, the website at http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm  will do the trick.
  4. Email me when you finish your hat and have it ready to mail so I can track which representatives have hats committed to them.  If possible, send a photo or link to your Ravelry project so I can publish it here on the blog.  And I’ll email with information about exactly when to send it on its way.
  5. Let’s try to finish this up by February 28.  Were the houses of Congress located in Minnesota, we could continue till sometime in June, but I hear spring comes earlier in D.C.
  6. One exception to holding onto your hat for a bit - if you can find a meet your congressperson event in your area, please consider hand-delivering your hat to them and making it really personal!  And please let us (Alison or myself) know that you’ve done that.

That’s it, really.  I will track the congresspeople for whom hats have been committed (click HERE to see the list of all congresspeople and who is knitting for them), so you might check to see if your reps have already been covered.  If you’d like to send your hat directly to me and not even worry about writing a note, I’ll handle sending it to a congressperson who has yet to chosen.  If you have any trouble at all, please email me (eDOTsilvaATcomcastDOTnet, PM me on Ravelry where I am twinsetellen, or comment here on the blog and I’ll help out.

112.jpgOh, and in case you were wondering, the hat in progress, destined for my own Senator Amy Klobuchar, is Wooly Wormhead’s wonderful design, Turbine, knitted with the fabulous Briar Rose 4th of July.  The nighttime picture is horrid - I’ll replace it soon with a better one, one that the pattern and the yarn deserve.

Thanks to all for their interest.  Now let’s go make the world a warmer place!

Love,

Ellen

Making Headlines (aka Warm Hats Not Hot Heads)

Edited 1/31/11: Updated details on this project can be found on the sidebar to the right side of the TwinSet blog.  Right HERE.

Dear Jan,

Alison and  I have been discussing the Tucson shootings, both feeling the need to respond somehow, in a way more concrete than an email from a website or even a phone call to a Congressional office.  We want our representatives to handle conflict in a way that makes it a good thing - a thing that brings us to the right place, not a thing that divides us and harms us.

17.jpgHence was born what I am calling Making Headlines Warm Hats Not Hot Heads (name change to more clearly communicate our goal).  I am going to start knitting hats, nice hats, hats that will be noticed when I send them to congressional offices with a plea to consider that one’s opponent on a political issue is still united on the issue of being human - caring about one’s family, one’s community, one’s country.

Here is what I’d like to do.

18.jpgI invite any and all knitters who would like to join in to knit a hat (sizing information here) for their own congressional representative, whether Senate or House.  Please email me, perhaps send a photo or link to a Ravelry project, and let me know to whom a hat has been sent.  I can track who is being covered (literally!) and if anyone wants to knit more than one hat, they can send them to me and I’ll handle mailing them to a rep who hasn’t received one yet.

19.jpgI will write a standard note to go with it, to which any knitter could add her own personal message.  I’m also thinking how cool it would be to design a hat for it, but I am also telling myself to keep it manageable.  W suggested that the hats be purple, a blending of red and blue, but I told him I want them to be worn!  That said, I believe purple would be a fine color if that is a color the particular knitter loves.

111.jpgAs Alison points out, this should be a hat you would be proud to wear.  Alison put it really well:

“I would plead that the hats be of a material you’d want to wear yourself. I want each recipient to feel they are being treated with the great respect we all mutually deserve.  For whatever it’s worth, I can vouch for the fact that the Plymouth King George (how’s that for an ironic name!) baby alpaca/merino/cashmere blend on sale through Tuesday for four bucks a ball (for the moment, at least) will make an absolutely soft, warm cabled hat using two balls; I just knitted one. Three balls should I think get you two plain beanies.  All in a day’s work.

I’m not trying to shill for DBNY, I’m just trying to convey the idea that it doesn’t have to be a lot of money for it to be something nice if you don’t have something ready in your stash. Support your local yarn store, too. However it works for you.”

We want each individual to be glad they got one–and wouldn’t it be cool to have Congresspeople swapping around with each other to get just what they want? Let the cheerful negotiating begin!”

110.jpgI’ll gather my thoughts and finalize the details in the next few days.  In the meantime, please jump in and start knitting if this interests you!  And if you have a blog and the inclination to direct folks this way, I’d be much obliged.

Peace,

Ellen

Boxed set…

Dear Jan,

16.jpg51.jpgThe kiddens enjoyed this last weekend a great deal more than I did.  They played in some new boxes, and Poison helped me lay out my Rimfrost for a progress shot.  (Yes, there really is progress.  Hours of it, by which I mean maybe 3/4 of an inch.)

24.jpg61.jpgThey both looked out at all the beautiful snow we have in the backyard, snow I haven’t gotten to enjoy because this dang cold hung on pretty hard over the weekend.  Now that I am back to work it feels like it is letting go of its grip.  I credit the nice neckwarmer I wore most of the weekend.

44.jpg34.jpgAh, well, with a lay-about-in-bed weekend comes a fair amount of fiber play.  Haselnuss got a lot further along (plus a few inches since this photo was taken) and another bobbin of merino/silk got spun when I dragged myself out of bed for a bit.

I guess I have to admit I really kind of enjoyed myself (when I wasn’t coughing up my lungs).  Maybe next weekend I can enjoy knitting after coming in from some snowplay.  It’s not like the Minnesota winter is anywhere near over, after all.

Love,

Ellen

Deer Ellen…

dsc01829.JPGOh, I guess I meant “Dear Ellen,” but I was so pleased by the fact that even with the construction noise and disturbances, the deer are still frequenting our backyard.  I do realize that I may not appreciate this when I am trying to keep them from eating my plantings one day.  For now, though, I’m very pleased that we’ll have visitors once we’ve moved in.

dsc01819.JPGdsc01818.JPGI became acquainted with some other animal friends while we visited our cabinetry guy, Levi.  He’s an Amish craftsman who works on his farm.  Our timing is perfect as the farming workload is down in the winter and there’s more time to work on furniture and cabinetry.  It’s also the end of the Amish wedding season, so our order will be started right away.  We spent about 3 hours with Levi going over plans, picking finishes and hardware and watching him work — as you might expect, he drafts the old-fashioned way, with paper and pencil and the shop was illuminated with a really big “Coleman lantern”.  The quality of his work is great and he made some really nice suggestions.  The kitchen is going to have farm-style cabinetry — a pale straw (barely yellow) color with black hardware.  It’ll look great with our soapstone countertops and island surface.  Our appliances are all Kitchenaid — a professional line stainless steel stove and the remainder are their quality line in black.  It will be about 10 weeks before the kitchen comes together, but we’re getting a good feel for it now.

dsc01810.JPGcopy-of-dsc01815.JPGThe house itself really is moving along quickly…when we showed up to do the walk through with the electrician on Saturday, there was a crew of roofers putting shingles on.  You can see the stacks of shingles at the roof peaks and the strips of wood that are tacked onto the roof so they can walk around up there as they work.  dsc01821.JPGBy the end of the day they had done about half of the job…amazing.  The rooftop that no longer has the wood strips is the part that is finished.  The photo doesn’t show it well, but the shingles have a lovely cinnamon grit along with charcoal gray and black. They will complement the copper roof that is going to go on the porch and the pineapple weathervane that will go on top of the turret.

copy-of-dsc01823.JPGcopy-of-dsc01825.JPGWe were pleased to see the front door in place — it will be stained…a dark, dark burgundy/mahogany red.  The house itself will be coastal blue — Dale’s holding up a sample piece of the cement-fiber composite siding that we’re using.  It will go up soon and I think will look fantastic with the crisp white trim and antique white soffits.

copy-of-dsc01833.JPGdsc01834.JPGIn the back you can see where the screened in porch will be framed out just to the left of the pop out dining area at the back of the kitchen.  The wrap around porch in front will give the screened porch some good competition for img_5442.JPGsitting and knitting.  The area at the end that is closest in this photo has enough room for a table and chairs or just for plenty of rocking chairs.  I keep imagining the small fiber retreats that could be held out there!

copy-of-dsc01813.JPGcopy-of-dsc01811.JPGcopy-of-dsc01814.JPGInside there is some more progress too…the rough installation of the the gas fireplace and the staircase being the most obvious.  The staircase will be adjusted before it’s made permanent, but it is safe to use now which makes going up to see the great second floor views far easier.   The view looking up from the great room to the 2nd floor landing is now framed an archway that is echoed in the front window seat — still visible on the 2nd floor until the dry wall goes up.  img_5437.JPGdsc01839.JPGOther archways throughout the house soften all the angles seen in the window selection.  The one framing the view out of the dining area from the kitchen is one of my favorites.  The area can accommodate a 12 foot table, but we’ve decided to go for a 10 and a 1/2 footer instead.  We picked out some bowback chairs that can benefit from the extra room.  We’re having another Amish guy build the table and chairs.  They’ll look much like the ones shown, but the table top will be much thicker to give better proportion to a table that long.

dsc01845.JPGI get to do a good bit of knitting on our trips up and back to visit the property and do the work of making decisions to support the building process.  I’m now down to a single WIP from 2010. A Sweater from Down Under.  I think I’ll finish it fairly soon — am really enjoying knitting it, so will have one more sweater for my repertoire this winter.  Here I am in Woodland Vines.  I got some great buttons on etsy and quickly stitched them on.  I do think I need to go ahead and find some matching grosgrain and redo them as my “eyeball” technique makes their spacing a tiny bit wonky.  I’ll wear it in the meantime…very comfortable and I’ve gotten lots of compliments on it while wearing it out and about.

dsc01852.JPGdsc01855.JPGOn travel for work this week I finished A Simple Lace Scarf, another 2010 project completed!  I tried a new blocking approach by feeding the scarf onto blocking wires while dry and then soaking them with the wires in them. Wow! It was so much easier to slip the wires into place and though I had to fill the sink to a higher level so the scarf would be fully submerged, there was no problem doing so. After its soak, it was easy enough to wrap with a fluffy towel and squeeze to damp. dsc01859.JPGdsc01858.JPGAnd then, a double miracle…the emergence of the lace pattern at lightning speed — it only took about 5 minutes to pin out! I will definitely do this again for smaller pieces that can be managed. I don’t think larger sweater pieces that won’t scrunch up into a small ball at the end of the wires would work very well, but scarves and shawls — absolutely!  I wasn’t able to hold out on not casting anything else on until I finished the 2010 projects as I had decided that hauling the sweater on travel with me would be too much.  (It’s a tunic length medium weight pullover and is at least 60% done.)  As I knew the scarf was within a few hours of completion (and therefore would be done before I ran out of travel time) I brought along a skein of Socrates from Alpaca with a Twist.  I now have another pair of socks on the needle.  More on them later.

I hope you are feeling better and that you enjoy your three-day weekend!

Love, Jan

The long dark tea-time of the cold…

Dear Jan,

I find it hard to believe what I am telling you, but yes, I am sick again.  I kept denying it - that dry spot on my vocal chords on Sunday night that left me sounding like Lauren Bacall on Monday, the consumption of an entire roll of Hall’s Menth-O-lyptus on Tuesday…

With the advent of the truly sore throat that upped the ante to Cepacol with 15 mg benzocaine on Wednesday, I had to admit it, and the way my voice would give out to little squeaks this morning, so did everyone else.

33.jpgThis one, however, is different.  I am still going to work.  I am still knitting and spinning.  I am drinking huge mugs of hot herbal tea and am having chicken soup morning, noon and night, but I am still in the world of the active.  It will pass, and in the meantime I can look at my pretty new singles.

15.jpgThese are being spun from the fold (you pull off a staple’s worth of fiber, fold it over your index finger while trapping the live end underneath, then draft away), something most typically would do worsted but I am enjoying the heck out of doing it woolen.  Because of the way fold holds your fiber in order over your finger, you don’t run much risk of the twist backing up into the fiber supply and it drafts out of this well-prepared fiber very evenly.

23.jpgWell-prepared refers to how nicely blended and combed the merino wool (75%) and silk (25%) is in this Schoppelwolle IN Silk Kammzug, but definitely NOT to how they divided their roving into pieces.  Who CUTS a roving???  Immediately, you have little short bits to deal with at either end that pulling the roving into two pieces would avoid.  I managed to spin most of it, but this is a surprising quality flaw.

43.jpgIn between spinning, I’ve been making decent progress on my Haselnuss (if you ignore that I immediately made a mistake in edited  the lace pattern to a new design).  See, this old cold is nothing like that plague that I had back in December.

But I still wouldn’t mind getting back to full speed.

I hope it is full speed ahead for you.

Love,

Ellen