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

Archive for July, 2012


A fiber athlete’s season is long but rewarding…

Dear Jan,

I may be falling behind on getting posts written, but I did not fall behind on my Tour de Fleece* competition.  My goal – to spin the singles needed to complete the Knitmore Girls SPAKAL (spin-along, knit along) project, to do some sampling in preparation for plying for the same, and to listen to some new podcasts while I was at it.  I scored in all three events.

I filled 26 storage bobbins with a fairly fine singles yarn totalling about 41 oz.  I had already spun around 25 ounces before the TdF started, but to get a pound of these fine singles done in about 3 weeks when I was away from my wheel for 9 of those days was a big achievement for me.

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To guide my sampling, I mixed the bobbins randomly and then pulled out 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5- ply strands and let them ply on themselves.  This is not sufficient to really tell what a balanced finished yarn will look like – you have to soak the samples in warm water which releases the energy that may have been quieted by long storage.  Here is an example of this energy release – see how the yarn, as it absorbs moisture, curls on itself?

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A good soaking lets the yarns even out and bloom.  Here is a before and after shot, on top, before a soak, and after is below.

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I then used these as guides for how much twist to put in as I plyed.

In the weeks between the TdF and the Olympics, I kept racing.  I’m finally making progress on my Hanami shawl, well over halfway there!

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But I’ll cross that finish line sometime later, because my current event is the Ravellenic Games**.   I’m knitting a Bohus hat, the Large Swan.  I’ve gotten well into it, and as always am absolutely enamored with the softness, the design, the lovely gauge of Bohus reproduction knitting.

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My pace will unfortunately be slowed up by returning to work tomorrow after a lovely weekend.  It included a bike ride and a run, both of which make me feel better about sitting on my bum and knitting while I watch the Olympics!

What are you sitting on your bum and knitting these days?

Love,

Ellen

*For our readers who don’t spin and follow this sort of thing, the Tour de Fleece is a personal challenge set by many spinners, coinciding with the Tour de France.

**And the Ravellenic Games are likewise a personal knitting challenge, coinciding with the Olympics.

Starts and finishes…

Dear Jan,

Two small miracles have occurred.

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I finished Gima, my pullover based on Julie Weisenberger’s Paulina pattern, out of Habu Textiles Gima 100% cotton yarn.  A fun knitting experience, despite my flub that prevented me from wearing it to your ceremony.  It was a great lightweight coverup to my tank dress – kept my shoulders warm but let the air flow through on the hot subway platforms of NYC.

I did some slight modifications, adding short rows to provide some more drape over the bust.  If I knit it again, I think I’ll make it a bit longer in the front, too.

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Second miracle – a tomato finished ripening in Minnesota well before the end of July!  Last year we didn’t even get one till mid-August.   I’m delighted that this finish is really the start of the season.

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And here is another start – a pair of plain vanilla socks out of Noro Kureyon.  I know you disliked knitting this yarn, but I’m enjoying it for simple stockinette.  It is crunchy, not soft, but I don’t mind that, plus it is known to soften a lot upon blocking.  It is a bit of a challenge knitting with such an energetic singles, but watching the colors unwind as I knit is highly amusing.

Tomato season has started, and knitting season just never ends, eh?

Love,

Ellen

Vegan Treats with Jenny!

Dear Jan,

What a wonderful evening!  We were so glad you and Marie could join Wilson, Karen, Brandon, and myself to enjoy Jenny’s capstone project as she finishes up her course in vegetarian chef training at the Natural Gourmet Institute.

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Fabulous menu.  The food was, too.  It looked better than my photos taken in the very low light of the dining room.

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Inspired by flavors of Central America, we started with a wild mushroom ceviche.  Who knew raw mushrooms could be so refreshing and tender?

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I still salivate when I remember that mole sauce with the black beans.  The smoky tempeh pupusa filling worked perfectly with the salsa roja, and even Wilson enjoyed the kale.  Nothin’ like caramelizing some shallots to make something taste good.  And I will do my best to extract the recipe for the vegan sour creme out of Jenny – even better than real sour cream, to my taste.

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Still, as good as eating the meal was, the best part of my dinner was the end,  when the crowd applauded the chefs (5 students created this meal for a crowd of 100) and Jenny looked so elated and relieved and happy.

Her last class is the 29th and then on to Mendocino for a brief internship before returning to NYC for a little more serving (to earn money) while she stages* at various restaurants to gain more experience and learn more.  We couldn’t be prouder of her.

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We spent the rest of the weekend enjoying NYC and a few more delicious vegan meals at some luscious restaurants, Blossom and  Candle 79.  We ate a heck of a lot better than the residents of Central Park’s Turtle Pond, though they had the fun of swimming in their food!

Oh, and did you notice what I was wearing in the above photo?  Yes, the sweater I was going to wear for your retirement ceremony did get finished in time for Jenny’s dinner.  I’ll post a bit more on that later this weekend.

Thinking about Jenny’s dinner made me hungry, so I’ll sign off.

Love,

Ellen

*Staging is working as a guest in another chef’s kitchen.  You do get paid, but in experience, not dollars.

It’s magic…

Dear Jan,

I am now prepared to share the story of The Shawl, now that it is in C’s hands and wrapped around her.  She said it best…  “I know it is magic.”

To bring our readers up to speed, we are part of an amazing virtual knitting group, one that grabs all chances to be together in person but supports each other via the internet through all the trials and tribulations of  life between times.  It is stunning that these women have seen each other in the flesh but a few times, yet feels it is so important when one passes a major milestone, like your retirement ceremony, that not just one, but several, come from far out of state to attend.  K from Minnesota, J from Washington State, and C from Vermont were planning to attend that DC event.

Then life got in the way very big time, and C announced she had been diagnosed with something really serious – really curable, but really serious.   Cure would take time and poison, and we all just wanted to wrap our arms around her and carry her through this journey, but as I mentioned, several states intervened.

K2 reassured us that the path to the cure was clear but also long and hard, and that while small knitted items are lovely, warmth was what was needed, warmth for the long treatments and the long nights that follow.  A shawl, she said, a shawl was the thing.

And I remembered a shawl that could be knit by many, not one after the other, but all at once.  This was the shawl we could knit at your ceremony and at the party after and maybe with all those hands knitting, we could get it to C before the second and more nasty round of cure would start.

Within 24 hours of the announced diagnosis, J3 had sent yarn she had spun from roving that E2 had dyed.  Yarn she loved but just hadn’t been able to figure out what it was needed for suddenly had a purpose (and what made E2 dye that lovely roving that J3 had to have, anyway?) Both would be present with the rest of us through the rest of the birth of The Shawl – so many times we mentioned them, their ears must have glowed red.

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D added a selection of her handspun, and she and I cast on while still in Minnesota – K had already flown to DC to be with you.  She knit on during your ceremony, and then all of us headed off to the farm where we were able to have 3 knitters knitting at once,…

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…and then 6 knitters at once at your retirement party.  More handspun, yours and mine, got added to the mix, along with a wine colored Wensleydale yarn from your LYS.

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We made wonderful progress, and had so many laughs and tears together.  And upon returning home I called on D and K again and in several sessions with more laughs, more tears, and maybe a beer or two, we finished the knitting and the edging.

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J created beaded adornments from beads that each of us held dear – I included beads from K2’s wedding veil, some goddess symbols, and others included semi-precious stones and glass.

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Many ends woven in, with each one a promise of binding things together securely and safely, and within 4 weeks, well before the second session of the cure,  The Shawl was on its way to wrap C in love and warmth.

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From her response, I believe she feels the magic of all of the energy  we have twined into this. Throughout, I felt the magic of all of us working towards this one purpose – not just creation of a thing of beauty and warmth, but magically creating an incarnation of our love that C can pull around her when times are hard and she needs to feel support.  I believe most sincerely that feeling that support will help her in her rapid recovery.

And we will have her knitting with us the next time the group gathers, for sure.

Love,

Ellen

Where is Ellen now?

Dear Jan,

This last month seems to see me logging a fair amount of travel to all sorts of places.  Can you figure out the most recent?  Here are some hints.

Crazy good berries and cherries.  The strawberries didn’t even make it into the picture before they made it into our mouths, and there is barely more than color left of the raspberries.

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Kites, flown by handsome men.

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Insanely lush flowers, including more colors of hydrangea, often on the same bush, than I have ever seen.

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Time enough to actually finish a project.  Here is my Glitter Train wrister project out of MadelineTosh Light,  pattern by Susanna Hansson.

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Got it figured out?  If not, look just above my index finger in the wrister photo.

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Yep, there is little else that looks like the Oregon Coast, where Wilson and I are vacationing with his family.  We are so fortunate.

Love,

Ellen

P.S.  A bit of saturation editing on the last photo as the weather was getting a bit murky, but zero retouching of the first four, it is just that dang beautiful.

Day 1 Tour de Fleece…

Dear Jan,

I realize it is almost the end of Day 2, but I’m still recovering from a Day 1 mishap.

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Selkie thought that fluffy Columbia batt felt purrfect for a kitty bed.  To me, though, seeing it put to use in that manner kind of felt like wiping out in the gravel.

Nothing salves a road rash like cherry pie, which is what these are destined to become in the very near future.

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And perhaps while it is baking, I can pick myself up and get back on the spinning wheel.  How is your race going?

Love,

Ellen