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Archive for January, 2011


If Dr. Yarn says it, it must be true…

Dear Jan,

I was so glad to see this note from Dr. Yarn in my inbox today.  It raised my spirits immensely.  I hope it does the same for you.

Love,

Ellen

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14.jpgAn unusual follow-up letter from last month’s letter came across the desk from a young knitter from New York.

“I am an eight year old knitter. Some of my little friends say there is no Dr. Yarn. Papa says, ‘If you see it in the Twinset blog, it’s true.’ Please tell the truth, is there a Dr. Yarn?”
Virginia

Yes, Virginia there is a Dr. Yarn. He exists as certainly as love and generosity, devotion, and knitting needles exist, and you know they abound and give life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Dr. Yarn. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance and no knitting to make tolerable this existence. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Dr. Yarn? You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch yarn shops, but even if you did not see Dr. Yarn purchasing yarn, what would that prove? Nobody sees Dr. Yarn, but that is no sign there is no Dr. Yarn. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn, or where knitting needles sometimes disappear? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they don’t occur. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

If you have to pull apart a whole sweater you have just finished, does that prove it never existed? Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, and knitting can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world knitting is one of the things that is real and abiding.

No Dr. Yarn? Dr. Yarn lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, Dr. Yarn will continue to give advice to all young knitters.

P.S. to all adult readers: I’m glad we got that straightened out. Apology to Francis P. Church of the New York Sun.

P.P.S. from Dr. Yarn’s editor:  As the illustration may confuse you, let me explain.  It is a picture of Selkie looking at Dr. Yarn.  What more proof do you need?

And hardness…

Dear Jan,

I’m trying not to jump to conclusions before the facts are in, but I am deeply, deeply saddened at the shooting in Arizona of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.  I can’t help but think, though the shooter is likely not affiliated with any particular organization, that demonization of government in general and specific politicians in particular must have played some role.

Not to mention that it seems that the Arizona legal right to conceal arms without even requiring a permit did nothing to protect at least 18 people while pro-gun laws may have provided access to tremendously lethal weapons to one.  I don’t know the specific circumstances at play here, but it sure makes one question the position of the NRA* that carrying a gun in your pocket will protect you, doesn’t it?

Hug Dale for me, and have him give you a hug, too.  My heart goes out to the families of those who were killed, and I hope very much that those who were wounded recover fully.

Love,

Ellen

*They blog about citizens stopping crime with guns, but I didn’t spot any links to gun-related deaths – teen suicides, drive-by shootings, cross-fire victims.  I wonder what they’ll say about this one – nothing on their site yet.

P.S.  We will be screening comments carefully for this particular blog post, withholding approval on any that become abusive or are obviously generated by software robots.

Softly, softly…

Dear Jan,

My last sweater was a satisfying knit, but the yarn was definitely of the more crunchy variety, not something to wear against the skin.  Maybe as a response I’m in a soft, soft, soft phase.

22.jpgI’m back at work with some regularity on my Rimfrost Bohus sweater.  At 1 hour per 1/4″ of length, she will be keeping me company for some time yet, but it is perfect calm you down at the end of a day knitting, what with the petting of the angora/merino blend.

12.jpgI set the twist in my most recent spinning, a 2-ply that I believe is cashmere, as I explained in an earlier post.  At about 120 yards, it is destined to be something small.  Happily it is soft enough to go up against ones neck, so I’m thinking cowl.

13.jpgAnd I am swatching for a new project out of Berroco Blackstone Tweed, a wonderful blend of wool, kid mohair, and angora.  I’m not usually partial to tweeds – the tweedy bits look like they want to fall off the yarn to me, but this one has the flecks of color well integrated into the strand.  I plan to knit Nuss from the Berroco Blackstone Tweed pamphlet #288 – I’m calling her Haselnuss, because the color of the yarn reminds me of hazel eyes – green-brown with flecks of gold and blue.

42.jpgAnd if that isn’t enough softness for me, the kiddens are happy to step in to fill the gap.

I hope life is treating you softly,

Love,

Ellen

P.S. In response to Gale‘s request, I’ve changed the size on the finished sweater photo in my last post.  And in response to Ellen’s request, the company from which I ordered the labels is NameMaker.  They had very fast response time and I love that the labels are woven, not printed.  They offer lots of color choices on ribbon and text, too.

Dear Jan,

21.jpgKnitting group last night, and one more finished object.  Here is a very bad picture, poorly taken and poorly modeled, of In Honor of Pele, my first sweater from my very own handspun.  At least The Poison Pawn is amused.

Pattern: Eyelet Cardi by Bonne Marie Burns.  This is an excellent, easy to follow and accurate pattern with many sizes.   Size 4 US needle.

Yarn: 3-ply woolen spun from the fleece of Nora, a 3-year-old cross of four breeds: Targhee, Finn, Ramboulliet, and Suffolk.  She was a gorgeous tri-color.  For this yarn I sorted out the pure white and pure black and kept all else (mostly grey) in the mix.I used approximately 1250 yards of yarn with an average grist of around 1400 yards per lb (light dk or heavy fingering), leavingabout 829 yards for something else.

31.jpg41.jpgI finished it with a grosgrain ribbon around the neck and down the front edges.  I learned that it would be wise to pin the ribbon before sewing to avoid bunching (and tearing it out and resewing it) and to match the length of the ribbons on either front to avoid ending up with uneven front edges (and tearing it out (again) and resewing it). Also – though I am happy enough with the 5/8” ribbon on the neck, I think a narrower ribbon around the neck would have lain more smoothly around the curves so will go that route in the future, but I love the 5/8” ribbons on the front edges.

5.jpg6.jpgThe ribbon, plus backing buttons, stabilize the shell buttons.  I used a pair and devised a 2 stitch eye cord figure eight to form a simple loop closure.

7.jpgThe final touch – I’ve finally gotten around to ordering name labels for my handknits.

1.jpgThe woolen yarn makes this a lightweight but very warm sweater.  Just in time – the long dendrites on our snowflakes indicate that we are very cold here indeed.

Stay warm wherever you are this week!

Love,

Ellen

Relief!

Dear Ellen,

dsc01769.JPGI finally finished these incredibly irritating very colorful socks.  It took me several months and only because I could hardly stand knitting them.  The first one got finished because it was the only knitting I had with me on one of my trips.  I started the second one on a trip up to the build.  After that I couldn’t bring myself to picking it back up until I realized it was one of only 3 WIPs remaining from 2010.  (Master Knitting Level I is a WIP too, but the swatches are all knit and the hat isn’t yet cast on, so I’m counting the hat for 2011.)  My resolution to finish all 2010 WIPs before casting on anything new gave me the will to persevere and finish up.  I may knit the pattern again someday — frankly, it’s what caused me to hang in there and finish them.  I can guarantee it won’t be with Noro Kureyon sock yarn!  For the price the quality (vis a vis fragile lengths and random knots) was terrible and it was hard on the hands — rough and unforgiving.  It also did not like to slide along the needles.  At least that made it unlikely that stitches would be dropped.  Anyway, they’re done…and despite the random knots causing color discontiguity, I managed to make them pretty well matched.

img_5349.JPGimg_5314.JPGThe house is a much more fun work effort and it is coming along beautifully — on schedule and even better than we imagined.  Granted we’re not doing much of the actual work, but we are making many decisions, and that’s work too!  Dale went up Friday while I slept till noon prepped for a fun-filled New Year’s celebrations.  img_5298.JPGimg_5302.JPGimg_5265.JPGHe took the doggies with him so they could run and play and get a look at their future home.  They really seemed to enjoy it.  Max checked out all of the doorways and Ruby ran around the hallways.  They marked their territory many times.  microsoft-powerpoint-presentation1-112011-34133-pm.jpgHere we’ve marked our territory with the help of GoogleMaps.  Just in case you didn’t have it in your mind’s eye where we are located.  I wish you could see it in person, but that will come with time.

Now to go psyche myself up to go to work tomorrow.

Love, Jan

Something cozy to start 2011…

Dear Jan,

2.jpgIt is oh-so-cold here this weekend.  We woke up to sub-zero temps and it has barely eeked its way up to double digits above zero (12F as I write this).  I’m glad I finished up a little wrap to go to work with me tomorrow.

3.jpgThis is my handspun Saroyan.  The yarn is a Lorna’s Laces wool roving that I spun worsted and did a two-ply with no particular color plan.  The bands of color are reasonably amusing.

4.jpgThe leaves that edge it, even more so.  After you’ve knit a few they become second nature and this becomes portable knitting.

As this was the very first knitting I started with my own handspun, I’m a bit more amused than perhaps it deserves.   Regardless, it’s nice to start the new year by finishing something.

Happy New Year to you, and to all of our readers!

Ellen