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Twins bound by a love of knitting talk about knitting and more.

Archive for December, 2011


A Fungus Among Us

Dear Ellen,

december-2011-1.jpgChristmas on the farm has been wonderful.  I didn’t get nearly as much done as I would have liked –it seemed like the time just flew by.  We did have a number of day trips during the week, so I’m sure that was a good deal of it.  We did do plenty of wandering about the farm.  Several of the dead trees have started producing a prodigious amount of fungi.  I guess to be accurate, the trees are only playing host to the organism, but still I’m impressed.

dsc04036.JPGWe got out solar power panels completed and laid in some pea gravel underneath.  We think we’ll also close off the sides and ends so we can use it to store all-weather gear like shovels and the wheelbarrow and such.  We’re producing more than we use already (okay, so the sun and the solar panels are producing it, not us actually), so from here on out we can say goodbye to the electric bill.  I’ll figure it out for sure, but I believe we are now carbon footprint negative on the farm.

dsc04060-2.JPGOne of the day trips that I made was back to DC where I sat with about 20 Navy women for Secretary Clinton’s unveiling of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.  She gave a very stirring speech and kindly pointed out that we were in the audience.  We had great seats, 6 rows back from the podium.  If you haven’t checked out the plan, I highly recommend it.  If we want a better world, we really need to encourage more women to be involved in making the decisions about it.

dsc04071.JPGWe also traveled to New York to see the girls and share a meal with them.  This, of course, was the scene of the great Marshall Chess Club caper.  I can’t believe I didn’t get a picture of Jenny while we were with her.  She was, as always, a delight to be with.  She even got Dale to try some vegan food after we pulled off the heist.

dsc04062.JPGWith great relief I finished knitting Marie’s Christmas socks just in time to block them and take them on the trip so they could find their way under their tree.  Socks for Heidi were there too.

dsc04073.JPGOn Christmas Eve we made the trek to State College to take Dale’s mom to dinner and share gifts with her.  She got the Foggy Coast cardigan I’ve been working on…and seemed to like it very much.  It fit her great!

dsc04066.JPGdsc04086.JPGTwo of our Santa surrogates (you and Chris) evidently thought we needed a little more of the birds and the bees.  Chris gave us this awesome birdhouse…the copper roof goes so well with our porch roof.  We put it in the side garden right next to the turret.  And you (of course you know this, but someone else might be interested) gave us this very cozy bee house.  We’ll place it out in the treeline where we get some great wildflowers and hopefully we’ll get a little colony going there.

jan-spins-1.jpgDale was a VERY nice Santa too.  He got me some very nice things (like the tee shirt I’m wearing while I type this — “Think Globally.  Act within local variable scope.”  Show it to your favorite programmer.  he will probably love it as much as me.) and I was very, very content.  Then he told me to close my eyes.  When I was allowed to open them a Kromski Sonata was sitting in front of me.  Talk about a surprise!  Picture me (the one without a single wheel spinning lesson) spending the rest of the day figuring it out.  I used pencil roving to do the bobbin full of the purpley-greenish-blue single.  I realize this is the “slice and bake” of spinning, but it gave me a good shot at getting used to treadling.  Then I played with two scraps of roving that a friend had given me when she was trying to get me to try spindling.  The yellow worked out very nicely.  The maroon was thicker, but still pretty even.  It was very sticky and I couldn’t get it to draft for anything.  Can certain dyes affect the slickness of the fiber?  I noticed when spindling the fiber optic fiber that the dark blue was more troublesome than the other colors in that braid.  Of course, I have no clue what the fiber was — may not have been a new spinner’s friend.

imag0052.jpgSo we had a great Christmas.  Especially Ruby who got many extra treats and then snoozed under the tree.  I trust yours was wonderful as well…and that you are enjoying the family and friends who have come to Minneapolis for the holidays.  Wish them all well for me too!

Love, Jan

Mmm, mmm, hao!

Dear Jan,

The food in China is hun hao (very good)!  It may be my favorite reason to visit the country.

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One of the memorable meals was in a very fancy restaurant high about The Bund, Shanghai’s waterfront along the Huangpu River.  Taste was remarkable, presentation incredible.

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The view outside, despite a light rain, was pretty incredible, too.  If you think of China as ancient, you haven’t visited Shanghai, that’s for sure.

chinese-knitting-december-20111.jpgI had the pleasure of getting into some smaller, more local restaurants in Beijing.  Of course, you can’t do Beijing without trying the Peking duck, but the duck’s webbing isn’t bad, either!  Other dishes from this restaurant included black cloud fungus, cumin lamb, and wonderful, juicy and savory dumplings.

chinese-knitting-december-20112.JPGWe also visited a hot pot restaurant (cook right in the middle of the table - so many flavors!) and a 3-story noodle house.  The Chinese know how to do noodles, let me tell you.

Perhaps you’d like to see some of the Peking duck or noodles in action?

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I must apologize to the vegetarians (who are among my favorite readers of this blog), who may have cringed at all the graphic meat shots above. I assure you, I had my eye out for places you could visit, too.  But it is a big country and I just didn’t have time to sample everything, so no reviews from this restaurant.

I’m still suffering from a tremendous case of jet lag (worst I’ve ever had, but at least I  got 25 holiday gifts wrapped between 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. this morning).  Regardless, the food was worth it.

I hope you are getting ready to have some great food with your family for the holidays!

Love,

Ellen

(Jet)lagging behind on posting…

Dear Jan,

Oh, my, have I been hit hard by jet lag.  I didn’t fight it at all on Monday and Tuesday, just sleeping when my body demanded it, but I need to nudge back towards a regular schedule so fought hard to stay up until at least 8:30 last night.  I got on the treadmill, set it for a slow 1.5 mph, and plodded along.  Holding onto the handrails, I could actually let my eyes close and nearly nod off, but the walking kept me barely awake until finally I let myself go to bed.

It was a good move - though I woke a couple of times, I managed to sleep clear until 5:30 or so and felt much better today. Not clear-headed enough to write much about my trip, so I’ll pass off a few yarny pictures until I am alert enough to write a proper post.

While in Tokyo, I visited Okadaya, a large sewing and craft store.  I was so proud to find it, navigating the Tokyo subway and then some alleys to find the building.  I was guided by a photo tour I found on Ravelry.

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Best things in the store - the needle felted amigurumi!  So adorable.  Some of them seem to have come home with me. img_9247.JPG

There were lots of knitting samples, including this lovely scarf of a silk and kid mohair yarn.

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There is no question that if I’d had room in my suitcase, I would have taken home this wheel o’ Noro pencil roving.

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One of the nice things about being a tourist is that you can pretend to take pictures of the attractions while actually taking pictures of the great knits that people are wearing.  These are all in Beijing.

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My own knitting for the trip was a fine gauge sock.  I cast on as we left Seattle at the start of the trip and finished it (except for the Kitchener toe, saving that for after a try on) as we landed in Minneapolis coming home.  Please excuse the photo-that-shows-no-detail-a-all - I am considering submitting the pattern for publication and so don’t want to give it away.

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And I am glad to be home, with my husband, and my kidden,… and my bed!

Love,

Ellen

From the Rim of the Pacific to Rimfrost…

Dear Jan,

It feels like Minnesota outside, but it sure doesn’t look like it.  I’m sitting at a desk in Beijing.  Shanghai, where I spent the last couple of days, is quite a bit south and rarely gets snow that sticks more than a few hours.  Beijing, at the same latitude as Minneapolis, has real winter.  It makes me a little homesick. 

Waiting for me at home is my Rime Frost Bohus sweater.  I think I’m satisfied with where I netted out on the sleeves.  What do you think?  Here is the poofy sleeve with the short rows that advanced one stitch per round.

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And here is the version where I advance 3 stitches per row, easing less fabric in with each short row.

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I like the way my strategy for short rows has created a real shoulder cap shape.  Here it is just after finishing the complete circle - you can see how the shaping emulates a flat knitted set-in sleeve.

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 Wilson will also be waiting for me.  I wonder if the moustache he grew for Movember will be waiting with him, or if it will have disappeared like a snowfall in Shanghai.

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Yes, that last comment was just an excuse for a gratuitous Wilson photo.  I sure miss him.

I miss you, too.  I hope we can see each other sometime soon!

Love,

Ellen