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Archive for June, 2012


Permission to go ashore…

Dear Jan,

It was a true privilege to participate in your retirement ceremony.  32 years in the Navy, serving on land and sea and in foreign countries as delightful as Italy and as dangerous as Iraq, you have most certainly earned our nation’s gratitude and a long and lovely retirement on the farm in Pennsylvania.

I enjoyed meeting so many of your colleagues and could tell from the ready grins on their faces and the enthusiasm in their voices that you really are a great leader.  But really, even when I told him who your were, that Lone Sailor guy just wouldn’t admire my knitting.  So disappointing!

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The ceremony was anything but.  Your family was rapt with respect and love.

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There were many laughs in the ceremony, but I was most touched by the moments of reflection.

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And the ceremony where they passed the flag that had been flown over the Pentagon to you, especially with Allen participating, was incredibly moving.  The precise, choreographed, and slowly executed precision passing of the flags through the ranks, the pride showing on each face as they received and then passed the flag on, and especially the way they each gazed directly in each other’s eyes with such respect for each other and the flag and the country – wow, I believe it is safe to say there were not many in the audience who weren’t wiping a tear or two.

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The look on your face as you prepared to receive the flag just slayed me.

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But not as much as when you requested, and were granted, permission to go ashore.  I couldn’t get a good photo of that – my hands may have been shaking a bit.  But your respect and affection for the Chief of Naval Operations was captured in the handshake you gave him just after he granted you that permission.

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Permission to stay ashore, plant some roots at Fair Winds, and enjoy friends and family without worry, knowing you’ve left the Navy prepared for the future.

Congratulations again.

Much love,

Ellen

Weak signals…

Dear Jan,

Perhaps I should have entitled this post “Weak Brain”.  My current project-most-in-play, Gima, sure was sending me plenty of signals that something was up but I managed to ignore them almost to the bitter end.

First signal – didn’t the first cone of yarn last a bit longer on the left half of this sweater?  Sure, but I quickly chalked that up to manufacturing variation.

Second signal – gee, the sweater seems to hang down a bit further when I hold it up to me now.  Great!  The yarn is relaxing and I’m getting a bit more drape, just what I wanted!

Third signal – Didn’t the fronts really whip up fast once I bound off the neckline on the left half?  It sure seems to take longer to finish a row.  It must be that I’m so distracted by the current mess at work.

Finally the Signal That Shall Not Be Ignored.  I counted stitches “just to see if I needed to sneak an extra decrease in to cover any minor miscounts before I do the 3-needle bind off”.  Ten.  Ten stitches extra in the right half.

It appears that if you don’t bind off the 5 stitches on each side of the sleeve which creates the modified drop shoulder shaping, you end up with 10 extra stitches.

No photos – the violence has occurred off stage.

For those playing along at home, it should be mightily apparent that this sweater did not make its debut at Jan’s retirement ceremony.  I am now hoping to finish it for our YD’s final dinner project for chef school, scheduled for July 13.

I will be paying much closer attention to any signals it sends along the way.

Love,

Ellen

Delusional…

Dear Jan,

I just finished the first half of Gima, my version of Cocoknit’s Paulina, which I still somehow hope to wear to your retirement on Thursday.  At some point reality will set in.  I wonder how much sleep I have to lose first.

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Love,

Ellen

At Least Something Got Accomplished

Dear Ellen,

1-dsc05240.JPGGeneralized anxiety, desire to form fetal position under desk, need to stay in bubble bath and in denial…these are evidence that I am rather freaking out right now as I try to face up to the events of the coming week.  I have found that knitting helps calm me down though, so I have been somewhat prolific over the last few days.  I finished up this Lazy Katy shawl…with the orange and yellow shadings of the Kauni I used as inspiration, I’m calling my version, Lazy Sunrise (as in Tequila Sunrise).  I thought this shawl was the perfect choice to highlight Kauni’s long color repeats and I think I was right.  The only thing left is weaving in the ends after it dries.  I’m rather pleased.

That’s it from here — much, much more sometime after the 14th!

Love, Jan

Knitting in the (Grand) Round…

Dear Jan,

The Grand Rounds are a system of parks, byways, and trails that circle the city of Minneapolis.  Tracing the Chain of Lakes, following Minnehaha Creek along the southern edge,  and wending its way through Theodore Wirth Park, complete with quaking bogs, you can spend a day in the heart of the city but never know it because you are surrounded by such natural beauty.  The Victory Memorial Parkway is another special part of the rounds – 3.8 miles of trees lining a broad boulevard, planted to honor those from Hennepin County  who served in World War I, and down the middle of which runs a stunning bike trail.

We rode it all today, and because we rode to it to start riding it, that meant over 47 miles of pedaling.  And we can still function!

We attribute this to our much improved trip management.  We started earlier than the last time we tried this (the time we gave up about 2/3 of the way through and cut off the north portion in interest of making it home), and we planned many rest and eating stops of much greater duration and much smarter food than the first time we did this (the time we did finish it but were so bonked about 3/4 of the way home we got home mostly by growling at each other).  I took advantage of a lingering lunch stop to get some knitting in.

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And Wilson had us stop at his chess club to look in on a tournament that was taking place.

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It was just what we needed, taking our minds off work pressures and spending about 7 hours just focused on each other, helping each other find the trail, reminding each other to drink and eat, and just yukking it up like kids.

I plan nothing more this evening than dinner and knitting, continuing on the sweater that made the trip with me, which is the Cocoknits pullover I hope to finish for your retirement ceremony this Thursday.

I may be deluding myself – when I got on my bike this morning, I was this far along with the sweater – the left sleeve and the very beginning of the front and back of the sideways knit garment.

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Luckily, the spiral shawl I just finished will go with the dress I plan to wear, too.  I don’t think that careful planning of resting and eating will really help me finish the remaining 3/4 of  this sweater.

I hope you are all finished up with work stuff other than handing in your keys.

Love,

Ellen

What’s up with this?

Dear Jan,

Wilson thought I was making an art picture – objects arranged in a bizarre still life.

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In actuality,  I was making science.  Behold, the Transit of Venus.

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Love,

Ellen

P.S.  Now with Bonus Sunspots!

Finishing…

Dear Jan,

This last weekend was a weekend of finishes.

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Wilson and I rode in the Tour de Cure, a bike ride that raises research funds for diabetes.  We did 27 miles in absolutely perfect weather.

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It must have been all those wheels turning.  When I got home, I was simply compelled to finish spinning the last bit of silk/merino roving that I had started about two years ago when I bought this spindle.  So satisfying to have 4 oz spun, even more satisfying once I get it plied.

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Did your sharp eye catch the last bit of finishing for the weekend?  Yes, underneath the TdC medal, my finished Spiral Shawl by Erica Gunn of DesigKnit.

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The shawl is knit on US Size 1’s out of Juniper Moon Findley Dappled laceweight in the colorway, Woodland.  The 50:50 wool:silk blend gives it sheen, drape, and it blocked very nicely.

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This was a test knit for Erica – watch for the pattern to arrive soon on her site.  The construction is clever.  Twin spirals circle your shoulders in a very simple to remember pattern of increases that makes this excellent travel knitting.

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Oscar would be happy to circle your shoulders with a little kitty hug.  He tried to entice me to rub his belly at knit night, but I was busy weaving the ends into the shawl. (ETA: Oscar is one of Lisa’s kiddens.)

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Selkie and The Poison Pawn find nothing amusing about another cat’s belly.

I hope you find your Last Week of Work to be highly amusing.

Love,

Ellen

What a Difference a Week Makes

Dear Ellen,

1-june-2012-001.jpgThings are really growing around here…the lists of to-do’s before next week’s festivities, the sense of anxiety that I won’t get it all done in time, the worry that it won’t be good enough for you all (oh, wait, I can scratch that one from the anxiety list), the scarf I’m making for the CNO and our tomatoes.  The picture here is the same tomato, 5 days elapsed between shots.  I also have blossoms on my pumpkins, melons and gourds and some grape tomatoes are starting to set.

1-4-star-scarf.jpgAnd as I noted the scarf has really grown too.  Once I got into the rhythm, this stitch pattern moved along much more quickly. At first it seemed to take forever! Truth is, you are knitting 4 rows for length you would normally achieve in 2 rows. The pay off is a wonderful fabric, dense but not too dense and it looks nice on both sides. This would make a fantastic structured jacket.  Now it’s all done except for weaving in a few ends.  The fabric really wanted to curl pretty significantly, so I wet blocked it and pinned it.  I wanted the edges to stay smooth and straight and didn’t really need to go to the extent of blocking wires.  So, I placed the pins a bit in from the edge and on a severe angle so that they were nearly horizontal.  The end product is scallop/point-free.  And the Galway benefited from the bath.  It was a bit stiff/scratchy knitting up, but during its soak it relaxed and softened up .  Dale loves it — is now hinting broadly that one in black and gold (Army colors) would be just the thing.

2-4-star-scarf-001.jpgDo you recall Erica blogging about her woven origami bag? She and I agreed that the strong geometric vibe of this scarf would suit the same kind of treatment. I tried it out just to see what it would look like. I folded it twice — once to see how it would look with the center lined up for the lower left corner (the center of the scarf is where I reversed the diagonal so that when it’s worn it will be symmetrical) and so that the simple diagonal was at the corner. I like them both, but do think the center on the corner adds some extra interest.  This collage also shows how nice the fabric looks on both sides…and the finished scarf folded and ready for wrapping.  (Once those ends are actually taken care of and not just tucked under!)

I’m down to a single work week.  The following week I do check out with the Navy clerks and then we have a few days to finish moving the last of our things to PA.  You’ll be here Wednesday — I’m excited for you to see the farm and hope you’ll love it!  And I’m pretty excited about Thursday too!

Love, Jan