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Archive for November, 2011


Dr. Yarn on TV knitting (it’s not what you think!)

Dear Jan,

Dr. Yarn is so well connected.  He even has ties to the entertainment industry.  Read on to learn more!

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img_9202.JPGQ. I’ve been reading in trade magazines that there are efforts to spin off some TV shows to ones with a knitting angle. Is this true?
A. It is not well known yet, but it is true that the TV industry is preparing some pilots for release very soon.  I have been called in as a consultant for several of the shows.
There are a couple of pilots that look promising. One is a spin off from House. A woman learns from her daughter that she is to become a grandmother. The distraught grandmother-to-be has knitted nothing for the baby shower. The grumpy old Dr. Knit, several interns, and other MDs try the usual things – Elizabeth Zimmerman surprise jackets, Tulip sweaters, something from Debbie Bliss – but nothing satisfies as they are just too ordinary. Finally Dr. Knit remembers a procedure he had seen when he was on a trip to Mozambique.  Using his mad Kitchener skills, he grafts the sleeves from the EZ February Baby Sweater onto the Owlet sweater, and tops it off with the hood from the Wallabee sweater. It turns out to be just the ticket and the grandmother’s baby shower gift is perfectly unique. Dr. Knit has saved the day.
Another one is a spin off from Masterpiece Theatre, with a working title of Masterknit Theatre. This pilot goes into depth on how some of the world’s greatest knitters have been turned from the dark side by knitting and shows several of their greatest achievements.  Famous patterns are read aloud in a sonorous voice with a lovely English accent.

Here are some that I do not recommend. One is a talk show in which young  women talk about knitting something crummy for their old boyfriends.  Knitting should never be used as a weapon, so I can not approve.   Another one is Monday Night Knitting. It will go head-to-head with Monday Night Football.  Many knitters find “watching” Monday Night Football with their significant others to be an excellent excuse for several hours of uninterrupted knitting, so the time slot is just not likely to work out.

Believe it or not they are planning some kitting ads. In one a male and a female are sitting in adjoining bathtubs knitting, watching the sun go down, and wondering if the time is right or should they continue knitting?  Unfortunately, they seem to be out of synch, each one announcing in turn that they just want to finish the row they are working on, which gives the other the chance to start one more row.  Predictable results ensue.  At least they don’t have to worry about the side effects.*
Thanks for the good question. It shows how knitting and TV can fit together nicely, on screen as well as off screen.
Dr. Yarn

*To prevent serious injury, notify your knitting ergonomist if you experience intense knitting sessions of longer than 4 hours.

Design feature…

Dear Jan,

How could it be that I finished knitting up a cozy hat this weekend, when I had finished off the skein (Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran, a single skein, deep discount, no more available)  from which I knit it almost two months back while in the middle of decreasing for the crown?

Here is the hat at the end of the skein.

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Here it is after weaving ends in today.

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How, without procuring more of the same yarn? You’ve already guessed, I’m sure.

I snipped and ravelled a the yarn from one row just below the top of the cuff.  Splicing the now live end onto the live end at the crown of the hat, I continued from where I had been forced to stop when I ran out of yarn until the crown was neatly finished off.  Breaking the yarn, I then spliced some equally soft tweed Berocco Blackstone Tweed on to the new live end and knit to replace what I had raveled to knit the crown.

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Some mad Kitchener skills, some end weaving, and ta da! a hat –  one that will be much warmer for not having a gaping hole in the crown.

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The brassy stripe inside the cuff?  I’m calling that a design feature.

Love,

Ellen

Knitted Creations

Dear Ellen,

foggy-coast1.JPGWhile Marie and Heidi were here, Marie’s interest in knitting seemed to pick up again.  We made a trip to the Lancaster Yarn Shop and picked up the yarn to knit the Origami Pullover.  This was prompted by our friend Heidi’s willingness to let us all try on her Origami — doesn’t it look great on Marie?  Reminds me of Audrey Hepburn in a funny way.  That’s 68 inches of K1P1 ribbing in the main body piece — slog knitting at it’s best.  The fact that this piece is just two rectangles cleverly pieced together made Marie feel very confident about her ability to make it. She was less confident in how quickly she could make it.  I agreed that if she knit the smaller of the two rectangles (about 1/3 of the knitting), that I would knit the large one.  We picked out some lovely 100% alpaca in a charcoal gray, a color she can wear at work and we cast on that night.  Progress is being made….I’ll keep you posted.

creation-shawl-1.jpgA far faster knit is this little fluffy shawl.  I made it from the limited time Rowan Creation yarn.  It took about an hour to knit up and will be a nice little donation scarf for our workplace charity silent auction.  It’s fun to wear too!

dsc03997-1.JPGI finished one other item — the Rocky Coast Cardigan that I’m calling Foggy Coast.  It’s going to take a long time to dry — that wool really soaked up the water.  It christened my studio sink and blocking area.  I look forward to many more knits making their way through that sink and onto that table.

Well, I’m going to run…I’ve got some ribbing to knit!

Love, Jan

Many Thanks

Dear Ellen,

thanksgiving-2011-1.jpgI’m thankful for many things…the friends and family who traveled to spend Thanksgiving with us, the wonderful food they helped prepare, walks in the woods and visits to the Lancaster markets…and those are just the things from the last few days.  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and now I’m thankful that all have returned home safely and we have a day of quiet before I have to head back to work.  I’m not all that grateful for the drive back to DC though!

Love, Jan

Signs of the season…

Dear Jan,

Though the brown landscape and predicted high of 53F/11C certainly don’t suggest it, we are entering the dark and cold months.  My Solstice cactus knows better.

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This is a much nicer reminder of the season than cold temperatures, at any rate.

I hope you find happy reminders of the season this weekend (and not in the form of mobs of shoppers!).

Love,

Ellen

Color me stuffed…

Dear Jan,

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Canning beets was part of the preparation yesterday for the Thanksgiving dinner we were serving at our house today.  This make sense if I also tell you that our refrigerator is full to the gills with crop share veggies, and I needed to make room for the anticipated copious leftovers.

Becky, Mike, Max and Claire spent the afternoon and evening with us, grateful to be together and grateful to have wonderful food and laughter and hugs.  I was also grateful that my refrigerator was no longer full of beets when it came time to put away the leftovers!

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We are incredibly fortunate to have the problem of a too-full refrigerator.  I know that many are struggling to have enough while I have so much.  Tomorrow Wilson and I will sit over coffee and write checks to the charities we support, and I’ll keep this in mind as we decide how much to give this season.

I hope you are finding much to be thankful about this weekend.

Love,

Ellen

Looking forward to Monday…

Dear Jan,

Believe it or not, I’m looking forward to Monday, if only to finally wear a sweater that has been knit for months but only yesterday got buttons added.  Here we have Hazelnuss, from the Cirilia Rose pattern of Nuss and knit of Blackstone Tweed.  It took me about 9.6 skeins on size 7 needles.

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The knitting was done back in May, but finding the right buttons and then finally getting them sewn on took much longer, mostly because I wasn’t sure how to handle stabilizing the front edge.   The final approach I took included a very narrow satin ribbon sewed along the inner edge of the lace rib that runs up the front, backing buttons to stabilize the actual buttons on that soft edge, and running that same ribbon around the neck.  With the latter move I was able to control a slight tendency of the edge to curl out, too.

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Something else I’m looking forward to is the arrival of the fleeces I dropped with Zeilinger’s while at Rhinbeck.  They won’t be coming for many Mondays, but I did reserve a sample of each.  I found some time this last week to play with the CorriedaleX which Erica is sharing with me.  I used mini-combs to create a very soft and fluffy  top, then spun up some very fine singles.  Chain-plying gave me a very fluffy but dk weight yarn.  I may swatch some more – what would a 5-ply look like? – but this would be a very nice sweater yarn, indeed!

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In other fiber news, this last week I received the gift of some of Rising Moon Farm’s new yarn crop in return for a small favor.  Catherine is far too generous, but I am far too thrilled with the yarn to refuse.  You, too, can get your hands on some of this when she gets it listed on their website for sale. (Hah! I just checked their website and see that you have already bought some!)

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Yesterday I played assistant at one of Gale‘s photo shoots.  I won’t divulge any details, as that is Gale and collaborator’s privilege, but it was my privilege to get to hold reflectors, tape back curtains, etc as the brains of the operation posed models and props.

Standing around holding a piece of foam core may not sound glamorous, but it did come with fringe benefits.  I met one of the cutest dogs around – Rowan reminded me so much of Judit.  He was totally sweet.

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Another benefit was that in just watching what Gale does for a full day, I learned a ton.  Lighting, modeling, attention to detail and more, not the least of which is that it really is winter in Minnesota and the light (especially when it comes through falling snow) is cool in temperature and fades fast.

Not that the kiddens couldn’t have taught me that, too.  It is cleary time to snuggle in with sister, and even if someone annoys you by taking your picture, you can just go back to sleep afterwards.

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But not until you go to work on Monday and show off your new sweater.

I hope your Monday brings you pleasure in some way, too.

Cheers,

Ellen

Up, Up and Away!

Dear Ellen,

hot-air-balloon-ride-12-nov-11-1.jpgWow!  We had an amazing day yesterday.  It started off with a very early wake-up and a drive to the north side of the county where we met up with the U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team for a ride in “the mother ship” — their 90 foot tall, 250,000 square foot hot air balloon.  We bundled up layers as we knew it would be pretty chilly at altitude.  Surprisingly, I barely noticed the cold and the one hour flight seemed to be over in a flash.  It was wonderful — so serene and smooth.  You feel like you are just gliding along with the best view in the house.  The sun came up while we were aloft — twice.  We saw it once and then went beyond a ridgeline and got to see it again…very cool.  The animals below were in divided camps — poultry was alarmed (‘The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!), horses were discomfited (‘I’m moving away from you because I intended to go over there, not because I’m scared.’), dogs were protective (‘You’d better not be thinking about landing in my fields!!’) and cows were totally bored (‘If you’re not dropping hay, I’m not interested.)  The high altitude perspective was fascinating.  Most areas looked so orderly and well-planned, even when the fences were obviously following irregular borderlines.  When we got back on the ground our chase van met up with us, the crew packed the balloon and we headed back to base for champagne, orange juice and pastry.

eastland-alpacas-open-house-12-nov-11-1.jpgThe flight alone would have made it a great day, but we had more planned.  We headed over to Mount Joy, PA on the northwest edge of the county to spend some time at the Eastland Alpacas Farm open house.  We walked the farm, took notes on barn and paddock lay out, learned a bit more about alpaca care and handling, bought 4H cookies (who knew!), stroked a kitty or two, hugged and petted and fed cuddly warm alpaca, and oh, yes, I did go in their shop and buy a bit of yarn and maybe a little stuffed alpaca friend.   The little brown cria in the collage was born on Tuesday.  We left even more enthusiastic about the idea of owning a few of these guys one day.  For comparison, Eastland Alpacas is situated on 20 acres, though we have a few more acres in woodland.  We, however, do not plan on having 90-some alpaca, so that should be fine.

muddy-run-park-12-nov-11-1.jpgWe left feeling very accomplished and satisfied with our adventures…but wait!  There’s more!  Next we drove into Lancaster proper and spent a few hours at the Pennsylvania Fine Arts Guild Show and Sale were we saw some beautiful pieces.  Dale spent a good deal of time talking to all the wood carvers.  I spent some time chatting with a jewelry designer whose work I really enjoyed — at the end of our conversation we had shared enough tidbits of information that I realized that her sister was a good friend of ours…a fun discovery.  We then headed home, but on the way stopped at Muddy Run Park.  Dale had discovered it a few weeks ago and wanted me to check it out too.  It is only a few miles from our place — I’m thinking summer bike rides! — and it is wonderful.  It’s basically the property surrounding the reservoir of the Ektelon Hydroelectric plant — very large and maintained for the community.  This is the same company that holds Peach Bottom and Three Mile Island nuclear power plants.  This kind of community benefit keeps the population favorably disposed.  The park would make a great knit in public site…my gears are turning.

dsc03956.JPGAs for knitting, the sleeves are on the Rocky Coast Cardigan.  I haven’t added the cuffs as I’m worried about yarn supply.  My approach is that after I finish the body, I’ll either decide I have enough to do the cuffs and collar/front bands with the vintage Manos I’m using, or I will procure some pale silvery gray Manos or Malabrigo to do a contrast treatment.  As I was winding another hank of the Manos, I saw that the tag on that hank had the price on it — $8.50.  As a similar Manos yarn now runs about $20.00, this helps confirm that the yarn is definitely old!

I hope you had fun on your Veteran’s Day weekend too!

Love, Jan

Hot Feet and Cold Nights

Dear Ellen,

dsc03770.JPGBrr!  The weather is chilling off here.  We’re consistently in the 30s at night.  Okay, okay, I realize you are likely consistently in the 30s in the day, but for us this is nippy.  We’ve woken to frost and all the other signs of imminent winter are around us.  Leaves are falling and give a nice crunchy accompaniment to walks in the woods.  I got the bulbs into the ground — all 275 of them.  And the corn has been harvested leaving behind the big rolls of silage that remind Dale of Easter Island.

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In knitting news I’ve finished my Eternal Flames socks.  I sought out a colorway that would play up the idea I had to use the flame rib stitch in a sock pattern.  I found Lancaster Yarn Shop‘s Kettle-Dyed Sock Yarn in the Amish Broomcorn colorway.  You don’t even have to put these socks on to start feeling warmer!  Gorgeous colors in this yarn.  I was a bit worried when the soak for blocking leeched a lot of dye (and took lots of rinses) from the socks, but they still look just as intense as the yarn when it was still in the skein.  The flame rib makes socks that are nice and snug — they hug your foot nicely, not too tight, but snug enough to stay up and stay put.  The heels are done with an eye of partridge stitch and the yarn is perfect for it…the short repeat of the orange and yellow against the long repeat of the dark mahogany red really makes the eye of partridge pop.  I’ll get the pattern together one of these days — I did keep notes!

foggy-coast.jpgI’m also joining in on the Knitting Pipeline’s Rip Van Winkle KAL and the Knitmore Girls’ Coastal Knits KAL and the Stash ‘n’ Burn NaKniSweMo KAl all with the same project. The Rip Van Winkle KAL challenges you to use something that’s been sleeping in your stash or queue for a very long time.  I dug up some skeins of Manos del Uruguay that I was gifted from a friend’s mother’s stash when her mother died.  She asked her daughter to give it all to someone who would use it.  I’ve had it for almost 6 years — it’s about time.  The yarn itself is so old that it’s on old tags, and is simply listed as 100% wool in size D.  It’s a misty colorway — pale pinks and greys and slate blues and creams.  Makes me think of morning fog at sea.  The Coastal Knits KAL is for any of the projects from that book.  I’ve picked out the Rocky Coast Cardigan.  So, for National Knit a Sweater Month (NaKniSweMo), I’m knitting a cardigan.  I’m calling it Foggy Coastline at Dawn.  I only have 1100 yards or so of the yarn, so am not sure it will fit me when I’m done.  Not too worried though.  Dale’s mom has been hinting for a handmade and the colors would look very good on her.  She’s enough narrower than me that it’ll work.  I think I’ll go put in a few stitches now.

Love, Jan

 

Contest Winners!

Dear Ellen,

dsc03784.JPGHere’s the outbound loot.  It’s heading to Tami (winner of the Claudia Hand Painted sock yarn), Knitnana (winner of the Namaste needle case) and Erica (winner of The New Stranded Colorwork book).  Congratulations to them all!

Love, Jan