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Archive for October, 2011


Early Snowfall

Dear Ellen,

I’ve been outside exploring the results from last night’s early snowfall.  Some of it is gorgeous…the wet snow on the leaves makes me think we need an “Early Snowstorm” colorway.

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And it is interesting how the snow stuck to different objects…Dale is calling the corn stalk remains “snow goblins”…

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And some of it is pretty sad.  We’ll keep our fingers crossed that the wreckage in the woods looks worse than it is.  Because so many trees still had their leaves, and the leaves held onto the snow like nobody’s business, lots of trees cracked under the weight.  You could hear the popping and cracking through the night.  Luckily none came close to the house, but now I do worry about diseases and rot in the trees that weren’t brought down altogether.

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It’s a good day to stay inside and knit.

Love, Jan

Socktober

Dear Ellen,

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I am sitting here typing with chilly fingers thinking I should have been knitting gloves this month instead of socks.  It has been snowing or sleeting all day.   We’ve only gotten a few inches of accumulation, but it is wet and heavy — and the trees are straining under the weight.  From my vantage point in my studio I am hearing the cracks and pops of a limb falling every half hour or so…several are kinda near the house, so enough to get nerves on edge!

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I did accomplish a good bit in the aforementioned sock knitting.  I’m almost done with my Hot Feet socks.  They’re based on the flame rib pattern and they are hug the foot very nicely as a result.  I knit them from this flame-like colorway to add to the thought of nice warm feet.  The heals are in eye of partridge — I love how it works so nicely with this colorway that has longer dark repeats and shorter bright repeats.

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I also got started on a pair of socks in Neighborhood Fiber Company’s Eastern Market colorway.  They’ll be for a young lady who lived in that neighborhood for a few years.  I don’t think she reads our blog that much, so I believe I’m safe to mention it here.  The pattern is the candle flame lace pattern.  I hope that’s not foreshadowing a need for candles if a tree limb takes out our power!

dsc03680.JPGFinally, I blocked the  Spring Lace socks that I cast on during Sock Summit…oh, the memories! The lace pattern is supposedly a floral design and if you look closely you can imagine the stacked rosettes working their way up the leg.  Let me offer that it is not worth it — It is one of those little lace patterns with many centered decreases and a really evil way of making you think you are on a row other than the one you’re supposed to be knitting.  I spent the entire first sock getting it into my head solidly enough to make the second sock easy.  Of course, the fact that I kept putting it down and working on something else may have had something to do with it.

best-of-knitscene.jpgI proved once again that I am a shameless book whore strong supporter of the publishing industry and our fellow designers and picked up both Coastal Knits  and The Best of KnitsceneAs there are many reviews out there right now for the former, I thought I’d offer a quick review on the latter.  This is a really nice little book!  Not only does it have 20 patterns, all of which I’d be willing to knit (and several which I feel I must knit), but it also includes extra articles on the designers and on a number of very useful tips and descriptions to help even the seasoned knitter be more successful.  Two of the patterns have been in my mental queue forever — Connie Chang Chinchio’s Geodesic Cardigan and Cecily Glowik Macdonald’s Michaelmas Mitts.  The first is an open front cardi with a lovely horizontal pleat detail on the front vertical bands and the second are long mitts trimmed with buttons and knit in some wonderful fuzziness.  It’s nice to know that the book includes updates to these (and all 20) to correct all errata found since their original publication in the original magazines.  At least three other patterns are shouting at me to dig out yarn and cast on.  Get this book and I guarantee a case of startitis!

I’m looking forward to drawing our winners from our birthday party celebration.  Till then,

Love, Jan

i-doctor…

Dear Jan,

1.jpgAccording to Walter Isaacson’s new book, Steve Jobs could be almost as controversial as knitting in a business meeting.  Almost.

Dr. Yarn has seen fit to answer a relevant question, so read on…

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Q: Dear Dr, Yarn,

I see where Knitcraft (a high-end knitwear designer/manufacturer in Winona, Minnesota) is experiencing soaring sales in turtle neck sweaters since Steve Jobs’ death.  Do you think this trend will continue or is it just a short-lived tribute?  I note that black turtlenecks have been especially good sellers.  Should I add several to my wardrobe?

Thank you for your advice,

Fashion Forward in the Heartland

A:  Dear FF,

Thank you for this timely question. I’ve had several questions along this line, so you are not alone in trying to find meaning in the mortality of this technology icon.

There are several reasons this fad will become a trend.

  • Teenagers find the turtleneck sweater a good way to be in fashion and hide hickeys from their parents. Even broad-minded  parents, knitter or not, do not like hickeys  showing on the necks of their children.  It reminds them too much of their lost youth.
  •  20-somethings are starting to use the turtleneck knitted sweater to make their necks look shorter. Who wants to look like Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady”?   In these tough times, good, solid, short necks signal the ability to carry a noggin with a large brain that will be useful for survival, whether of the coming Zombie Apocolypse or simply the coming Presidential elections.
  • The main reason the trend will continue is many of the young inexperienced knitters like the quick knits and not the complicated patterns. I deplore this movement. What they are doing is knitting just the neck.  Yes, I said just the neck.  Some knitters try to explain this away by calling them cowls.  I don’t understand this trend, but I suppose wearing one exposes a lot of skin, and we know that could be attractive to the opposite sex, another strategy for surviving the coming elections as one would be quite distracted.  I refer you back to the first reason turtlenecks have become so popular.

As for color, Steve Jobs usually was in the basic black, but I see the young people going big for colors.  You may wish to load up with a lot of colored yarn before it is all gone—especially the apple shades. This is going to be big, so we salute you Steve Jobs for your knitted turtle necks.

Best wishes,

Dr. Yarn

P.S. Watch for a new series of Dr. Yarn lectures available on i-Tunes!

P.P.S. There is still time to enter the Twinset 4th Birthday Bash contest.  Just leave a comment on the contest post!

Holy Cats…We’re Almost Four!

Dear Ellen,

Although our very first post is from September 2007, we didn’t really start blogging till November 1st, 2007.  That means our fourth birthday is just around the corner.  Needless to say, that means we need  a party with games and prizes.

For the party, let’s invite all of our readers to leave birthday greetings on this blog post.  For the game, let’s use those comments as entries into a drawing.  For prizes let’s include:

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…Yarny Goodness

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…A Home for Wayward Needles       …And a Book for Good Measure.

Love, Jan

Rules —

  1. Leave a birthday greeting blog comment on this post.
  2. Only one entry per person — you can comment more than once, but you’ll only be entered in the drawing one time.
  3. Contest closes at midnight the night of November 1st, Eastern Standard Time.
  4. Three winners will be randomly selected in the order of the prizes listed above.
  5. Winners will be announced shortly after the contest closes and will be contacted for their mailing addresses.

aka Rhinebeck…

Dear Jan,

My trip to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival and Bred Ewe Sale was wonderful.

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We (Karen, Cricket, myself and Erica) got there early; 3 out of 4 of us were awake.

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As a point of reference, if you arrive 45 minutes before the gates open, there are barely any lines.

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It totally lived up to our expectations.  There was yarn…

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…and some of our favorite knitterati (Cricket and the Yarn Harlot, Karen and Kay Gardiner, and Gale Zucker hamming it up with me over the Tongue-in-Chic skirt from her recent book, Craft Activism)…

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…and of course sheep.

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I’ve started narrowing down the breeds that I plan to run on your estate, just so you know.

Though we spent the entire day on our feet, we were still smiling at the end of it.  Especially when the beer sampler at the Hyde Park Brewery showed up.

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There may have been a few fleeces purchased, but I’ll fess up to those in a later post.  I did want to show you the spinning action of my newest spindle, though – a Golding!  That baby just doesn’t want to stop spinning……….

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That is the inside of the cabin we rented.  It was lovely, nestled in the woods about 30 minutes from the fair.  What a treat to relax and knit together.

Karen worked on her Green Mist…

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…and I finally finished my Maeva socks, knit from the yarn I spun from the roving you brought from New Zealand.

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I apologize for the long post full of so many pictures, but I needed to pretend it wasn’t over yet, so I hope you’ll forgive me.  Here is one more picture of Cricket as penance.

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Next fiber festival, I hope you are in some of the photos.

Love,

Ellen

October Colorways

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Dear Ellen,

Fair Winds is full of colorway inspirations this time of year.  This time next year, I hope I’ll be trying to recreate some of them!

Love, Jan

Unexpected Design Innovations (UDIs)

Dear Ellen,

Herewith, I am coining a new knitting acronym — the UDI or unexpected design innovation.  These are those changes to patterns we make when we are well into the pattern and we realize that if we continue executing the pattern as written, we will be unhappy.  So, we make changes.  We may be worried about running out of yarn, so we adapt to use another color, reduce rounds between decreases, or shorten sleeves — or we may realize we’re going to have loads of yarn left so we add repeats or lengthen sleeves — or we discover we worked the pattern incorrectly about umpteen rows back so we determine we can make it work if we make sure to make the same deviation on the other side — or…you get the idea…and we discover we love the result better than we thought we would like the original.

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This little sock is a UDI…I was sizing up the fast baby booties and discovered that adding only 2 stitches to the cast on yielded a toddler sized sock, not a 6-9 month bootie as I was targeting.  I kept going though and realized the resulting footy (you can’t call a big girl or boy’s sock a bootie, right?!) would fit the foam stress reliever foot that we had in the office at work.  And if knit in a harder wearing worsted, it would make a nice little slipper sock for toddlers.  I still have to write up the pattern…the weekend disappeared on me.  (We got surprised by early arrival of some furniture and it took almost all of Saturday to get it from the warehouse and into place.)

dsc03552.JPGNot much more knitting to highlight this week.  I did finish the cuff of a pair of socks that is part of The Knit Wits Socks Around the World.  They’ll go into the mail next week headed for the next knitter who will do the heel.  I think I’ll cast on a pair of socks for myself as soon as I’m done here.

It was great fun to see you Thursday night.  Sorry you’re flight cancellation stuck you in DC, but I benefited from it.  Hope you had a blast at Rhinebeck, and I’m expecting those sheep.  😉

Love, Jan

Smoke on the water…

Dear Jan,

Sorry for the radio silence – work and work travel have left me behind in my post.  Here are a few pictures from my weekend up north at the Sisu Designs Lost in the Woods knitting retreat.  I had no real objectives other than to enjoy the sauna, so it was totally a success.

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I’m off to Rhinebeck tomorrow.  It’s hard to imagine that it will compete, except that it has the unfair advantage that Karen will be with me. (Hurrah! to go to a fiber fest with a dear daughter!)

I wish you were with me, too.

Love,

Ellen

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

dsc03453.JPGdsc03477.JPGDear Ellen,

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dsc03456.JPGdsc03519.JPGdsc03518.JPGIt’s definitely autumn on the farm.  Our second crop of hay was dsc03526.JPGdsc03533.JPGdsc03522.JPGharvested this weekend and it smelled wonderful — sweet and earthy.  Beautiful to see it raked up into deep rows and then fun to watch the baler come through and turn it into giant wheels of hay.  The doggies got their chance (courtesy of Dale) to pose on top of one of the bales.  They loved it up there, but were happy to get down.  I love hay.

dsc03490.JPGdsc03503.JPGdsc03513.JPGHay was the inspiration for my latest small shawl.  It’s the Shaelyn pattern, but I named mine Haylyn since the colors made me think of the hay and straw on the farm.  It’s a simple feather and fan variation dsc03450.JPGdsc03494.JPGdsc03496.JPGbetween rows of stockinette distinguished by single garter ridges.  It was a VERY fast knit and the pattern is memorized in about 2 minutes.  I started it because of the knit along started over on The Knitting Pipeline group.

dsc03433.JPGdsc03429.JPGdsc03438.JPGdsc03504.JPGdsc03510.JPGdsc03477.JPGdsc03467.JPGdsc03462.JPGLots of colorway inspiration around the farm right now.

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dsc03465.JPGAnd I’m still overturning rocks to see what is hiding beneath.  Do you think this is a salamander nymph or some young snake?  He (she?) squiggled off under the leaves pretty quickly, so I’m confident he was okay.

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dsc03445.JPGdsc03419.JPGAnd I reported on Ravelry that I finished  my Saroyan, Virtual Loungewear.  I only had a little yarn leftover which greatly pleased me as it was my first handspun.  And I’ve made a very cute little memento out of the leftover.  I’ll show you one day soon…some more work to do to finish it up.

dsc03517.JPGBusy couple of weekends here — we’ve been working in the woods, the garden and trying to keep making progress on the unpacking.  We also went to a local benefit auction where we both got some great deals.  I’m particularly pleased with this shelf that comes with 5 bins that fit right into the shelf (as shown for the top shelf).  I got it for $35!  A little sanding and stain and it will be a most awesome addition to my studio.  I can’t decide if I’ll use it to hold yarn or to hold WIPs.

beaujeff.JPGdsc03414.JPGA few weekends ago (has it been that long since I posted?) we went to two big events for the Navy.  The first was the Lone Sailor Awards Dinner where the Fabulous Bridges Brothers and several other great Americans were recognized for having served in the Sea Services and then having gone on to do great things for our nation.  The second was the change of command between ADM Gary Roughead and ADM Jon Greenert.  ADM Roughead also retired in the same ceremony.  ADM Greenert is now the Chief of Naval Operations — an incredible guy (as was Roughead) that Dale and I know well and for whom we hold a lot of respect.  He’s the guy I’ll be asking to allow me to retire.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed that he says, “yes!”  I want to be put out to pasture…literally!

Love, Jan