Monday, January 30, 2012

Flurry and Snow

I am happy to tell you that I finished the Flurry sweater!  And just at the right time.  This winter has not been like the usual winters that we have grown accustomed to living here.  The average temperature this winter, has probably been around 7C (strictly a guess).  We did have a few days where the weather for the high was 2C.  But not this week, I awoke to about 5 cm (2 inches) of snow! 

Here’s something that you should know about me:  I grew up about 45 minutes east of San Francisco.  I got my driver’s license in California.  I spent my first few years of college in the Sierra Nevada’s where I did not have a car; therefore I did not drive in snow.  At the start of my 30’s, we moved near Raleigh, North Carolina where it snows once a year and usually shuts everything down; again, no reason to drive in snow.  Technically, I never learned how to drive in snow.  I still don’t know how to drive in snow.  Ok, that’s not a complete fair statement.  I can drive in snow; I drive really slowly.  But I choose not to drive in the snow.  Anyway, it doesn’t really matter; I live about 200 meters from a bus stop and a train station.  If I take the bus, it drops me off almost in front of the grocery store (Albert Heijn) and I can take the train anywhere.  So today I will wait to see if the snow melts before deciding car or bus to go to the grocery store.

But like I said at the start, I finished this really warm wool sweater and just in time as the weather will be the high of 0C (32F) all week.  I had some problems in the decreasing.  If I did what the pattern said, the “vine pattern” would have met in the center of the neck opening because you decrease the center stitches as well as the sleeves.  This is when I learned the importance of “row gauge.”  Because I am using a different yarn then what the pattern originally called for, my “stitch gauge” (the horizontal stitches) is working out fine; but the “row gauge” stitches (the vertical stitches) are thicker and longer.  I will have to look into this further as I did learn the importance of row gauge.  But, as we say in our house, “I have The Luck of Vermouth*.”  Meaning, I seriously got lucky with outcome of the sweater. 

So I stopped decreasing in the center when the stiches in the middle (between the 2 vine patterns) reached 10 stitches.  Then I continued only decreasing in the sleeves until those stitches joined up.  Then I started decreasing every other row the stiches outside of the sleeves until the neck opening reached 92 stiches (20 inches for neck opening). 

I made some more (extensive) notes on my project page of Ravelry.  My project is called Flurry.  The last reason why I got lucky with my yarn was because the Flurry pattern is a simple sweater design with a pattern on the sides.  If this sweater design had cables and/or fancier stitches, it would have never worked out.

This is Olive's Flurry

* The Luck of Vermouth:  Whenever Vermouth seems to get herself in “a jam,” and The Shaker and I are explaining the importance of her actions and the resulting consequences, she always seems to get out of it by shear dumb luck! –  Which drives us mad!  

The Martini Knitter

Monday, January 23, 2012

House of Bols

When we have visitors, we try to find something to do that would interest them as well as us.  One of the nicest zoos in The Netherlands is Burger’s Zoo, which is practically in our backyard.  As you guess, there are only so many times that we can go there before boredom sets in!  We had a college friend that lived a few blocks from the Anne Frank House and I remember her saying that when people come to visit, she and her husband take turns on who will take them to the Anne Frank House.  So, naturally, you can see where this is going ... 

When we first moved here, we bought a tourist book on The Netherlands, DK Eyewitness Guide to The Netherlands. This is our “go to book” when people come to visit.  But I can’t find the book!  We remember lending it to somebody (can’t remember who!) and we forgot all about it until Olive’s visit. 

Again, have I said this enough -- thank God for the Internet!  I did a google search on “top 10 things to do in Amsterdam,” and up popped the House of Bols. Bols is the Dutch Gin that is made here in Amsterdam and I didn’t know that there was a place to tour and taste Genever. 

The House of Bols is very close to the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum.  One of the interesting facts is that Lucas Bols, the founder of Bols, knew Rembrandt very well.  When Rembrandt couldn’t pay his liquor bill to Lucas, he gave him a painting.  You can see the painting when you do the tour.  Each room on the tour has a different theme or effect when you entire.  We especially liked the “speak easy” room because of the comfy sitting area. 

The Shaker liked the antique distillery located
in the back

The proper way to drink Genever is one of these glasses
filled all the way to top so that you have to slurp it!
The other part of the tour that I liked was the room with the “Delft Houses.”  When The Shaker is traveling for work he likes to fly with KLM. The KLM flight staff is always friendly and helpful.  One of the really cool perks of flying business class/1st class on KLM is the “last drink on the house” which is a “Delft house” partially filled with Bols Genever.  We have a friend here that has enough “houses” to wrap around an entire room.  When I go to see her, I just love looking at the Bols houses; they are so pretty.  So when The Shaker started traveling, I was excited that he was able to get a Bols’ Delft House. 

The Anne Frank House - we need this one!
Even KLM has a house!
When we went into the gift shop where you can buy all the flavors of Bols’ liqueurs, they had the “House of Bols” Delft house for sale.  They said that this is the one only you can buy from them and you can’t get it on a KLM flight. Olive was very kind to add this “house” to our collection!  Thanks Olive!

Me, The Shaker and Olive in the Mirror Bar
"The Little Mermaid" and "The Original Collins"
This is our collection with the new addition -
House of Bols

The Martini Knitter

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Slip as if to Knit OR Slip as if to Purl

Olive and I are cruising nicely along on our Flurry sweater.  At this point, Olive has both of her sleeves on to the body of the sweater and she is working her decrease rounds around the shoulders.  I have one sleeve on and have started the second sleeve.  We are both pleased with how our sweaters are looking and should be, hopefully, done by the end of the weekend.  

So while Olive and I were knitting, she asked me how I perform a “slip slip knit” decrease stitch (written as “SSK” in stitch patterns and it slants to the left).   She said that she finds that everyone does this series of stitch movements differently and she that this discussion topic is very interesting among knitters.  She says that some are very set in their ways about how to do this stitch, and others (like me) more flexible.  I told her for me, it’s how the stitches look when they are lying down after the decrease. 

I told her that I have seen it 2 ways and it’s all in that second slip-stitch where the discussion lies:

1)    Slip the first stitch as if to knit onto the right needle, slip the second stitch as if to knit onto the right needle, put both stitches back onto the left needle, knit both stitches together through the back loops.

2)    Slip the first stitch as if to knit onto the right needle, slip the second stitch as if to purl onto the right needle, put both stitches back onto the left needle, knit both stitches together through the back loops.

This discuss comes all down to that second stitch: do you slip as if to knit, or do you slip as if to purl?

I think comes down to 2 things: the yarn you are using and personal preference.  On the Advent Scarf, Kristin, the designer, has several stitches where I have to slip 3 stitches and then knit these 3 stitches through the back loops.  I slip all 3 stitches the same way – slip as if to knit.  I read a comment thread on the Advent Scarf from someone on Ravelry (under groups) about slipping all 3 stitches the same way, “slip as if to knit,” and I agreed with that comment – they looked nice laying on top of each other.  But on the Flurry sweater, I have slipped as if to knit the first stitch and slipped as if to purl the second stitch because – yup, you guessed it – I like the way that they lay on top of each other.  In fact, the second stitch – the purl one, looks almost hidden behind the knit stitch.  Both yarns are DK weight, but the texture of the yarns is different; one is softer and finer (the Advent Scarf – Morehouse 2 ply merino) and the other is slightly more course (the Flurry – Rowan Scottish Tweed).

I like that this subject of how a stitch looks and how it is assemble very interesting.  I am interested to hear what others say about they perform an SSK stitch, especially since I am still new to knitting. And lastly, I will leave you with this thought: 

I recently heard someone say this about knitting, “There are no rules in knitting; it’s just what you like in your stitches that counts.”

The Martini Knitter

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Amsterdam and a Dead Phone!

When Olive told me that she had booked her trip, I immediately got online and started plotting out yarn shops.  I have been to 1 of the yarn shops in Amsterdam but I also found another one on Ravelry when I did a yarn shop search (under yarns). 

With a little help from Google maps, I plotted these 3 shops to visit:  de Afstap, Kitsch Kitchen and Penelope Crafts on my normal, “old school” folds out map.  Yup, I did not use any GPS advice and we didn’t have to ask for directions!

De Afstap:  it’s a small cozy store located in the Gray Area of Amsterdam.  (I just like knowing that there is a neighborhood called “the Gray Area” because everything in our home is always black and white and hardly ever gray).  De Afstap sells mainly Rowan yarns but also has other brands as well.  But the really nice surprise is the big collection of knitting and crocheting books and as well as magazines.  Most are written in English but there several written in Dutch as well.  The shop also sells a nice assortment of buttons and accessories and a great selection of knitting needles.  I left the store after purchasing the book called Classic Elite Knits, a hat by Kate Davies called Peerie Flooers and of course the yarn to go with this pattern (Rowan Fine Tweed).
Olive goofing around in front of de Afstap!  
Kitsch Kitchen is just a fun shop to see.  In Arnhem, Brassa carries several things from Kitsch Kitchen but I didn’t know that there was a whole shop dedicated solely to Kitsch Kitchen in Amsterdam (hence, the name).  They make a wonderful assortment of small and large bags and other odd items like bicycle seat covers to diaper bags all out of bright colored Mexican oilcloth.  Olive had stumbled across this store on one of her previous trips with her boys; however, the shop was closed.  So we added this non-yarn shop to our day out shopping in Amsterdam.  I bought a new carry-on bag for when I while travel to the US and scored a Hawaiian hula girl for The Shaker.  He has always wanted one and Kitsch Kitchen had it!  He was very happy that we bought him a gift.
When you are looking at the map of Amsterdam, the city is shaped like an upside down letter “U.”  So when looking at the map and holding it with Amsterdam Central train station at our backs, we had started off on the right side of the city.  We had been to 2 places on the right-hand side of the city and now we had to walk about 15 to 20 minutes from the Kitsch Kitchen store to the Penelope’s Crafts located over in the Leidseplein area of the city.  We walked along Prinsegracht heading towards Leidseplein.  There were many fun shops along this street to see:  a store that sells hand-painted Delft ware (new and antique), jewelry shops, men and women’s clothing and other unique shops to see.  There was also a really nice vintage vinyl record shop where my phone died!

Hand made felted products from Kazakstan on Prinsegracht

My homage to Michael Connelly's character Harry Bosch
The Shaker's Hula Girl
Now I should tell you that I live cannot live without my mobile phone.  I have a Blackberry and when Olive and I are not together we communicate through the BBM feature on our Blackberries.  I usually have it fully charged. When I left my house in the morning, I had 3 bars left on my battery. So I am snapping pictures with my phone and posting some photos on Facebook to our friends, but I still had battery power, well, when we got in front of the vintage vinyl record shop, I went to take a picture of Olive in front of the store for one of her sons, when the phone died.  I have now learned the importance of having phone number written down on a piece of paper and placed in my wallet for situations like this arise. So I am sorry I have no photo of us at Penelope Crafts.   

Penelope Crafts is located on a side street off of Leidsekriusstraat among several international restaurants.  Now for my fellow Americans who live abroad and are missing their American hamburger (like me), The Hard Rock CafĂ© is located about a 5 to 7 minute walk from Penelope Crafts.  But if I was working at Penelope’s I would be constantly hungry because the smells on this street were just amazing.  We went in and met the owner, who is an American, named Malia. She has a great cozy shop.  A nice comfy area for you to sit and knit or to relax while someone is shopping.  She has some Amy Butler fabrics and patterns, knitting books, and of course, yarn, mainly, Cascade Yarns.  I left her shop with 8 skeins of Cascade 220 worsted weight yarn to make Ann Budd’s Cambridge Jacket for The Shaker.

This is where Olive’s influence has really come in while visiting us. I know that I usually just make hats, scarfs and socks for The Shaker and no one has asked why until Olive showed up.  Olive: “Hey, why haven’t you knitted a sweater for The Shaker yet?” Me: “Because you haven’t been truly shopping with that man and seen how picky he is about the cut of the sweater or the color.”  So we were out shopping with him the previous weekend and she saw first hand about how picky he really can be.  But that didn’t stop her like it did me.  No, she came home and looked at my pattern books and sat The Shaker down with a few choices.  He said that he liked the look of the Cambridge Jacket; if I knitted it he would wear it (which he wears everything I knit – he’s just that way).  Now when we were in Penelope Crafts I called him to tell him that the phone died and to ask him what color would he like the Cambridge Jacket?  Now get this!  He said, we could choose the color!  Talk about pressure!  We liked the Delft royal blue color, the grape juice purple color and then the heather purple color.  We choose the color with what he usually wears with his store bought sweaters, light blue.  We picked the heather purple … and The Shaker liked it!

The Martini Knitter

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

And We’re Off …

So Olive and I are off and knitting on our Flurry sweater.  We ran into a few set backs but nothing too complicated.

As you know we are using Rowan Scottish Tweed (DK weight) and we are using US size 3 needles because we reached gauged.  But what we didn’t consider was the “vine pattern” that travels up the sides of the sweaters; it has a series of “yarn overs.”  So, by using size 3 needles and the thickness of the yarn, you can’t see the pretty little holes we have created because the needles are too small and the yarn is too thick resulting in the pretty little holes being almost closed. I know, not pretty at all.

This took us back to the drawing board.  Olive explained that since the detail work was in the sides and not at all in the front, we wouldn’t have to worry about taking stitches out of the center.  The sides would remain the same and the center would be missing some stitches because of the new gauge.  She suggested that we make another gauge swatch using Rowan’s needle recommendation on the yarn label, which was size US 6 and see if we reach what they suggested.  She used size 6 and I used size 5, as I know that I am a loose knitter.  I was excited to start again as my hand was already cramping because I was trying to keep the tension tight on size 3 needles. So this meant that I might be able to knit in my normal style, slightly loose!

We both reached the recommended gauge that was printed on the yarn label.  So this took us back to the pattern instructions.  And with a little math we were able to find out how many stitches to cast on and begin the project again.

So here’s the math!  I am using my numbers for this example. 18 stitches equals 4 inches on my swatch and I am making the 43-1/2 bust size.  So the mathematical equation looks like this: 18/4 = X/ 43.5

So, 18 divided by 4 equals 4.5.  Take the 4.5 number and times it by 43.5, that equals 195.75; rounded up is 196.  196 equals the number of cast on stitches for size 43.5 bust on the pattern.

Just in case you are thinking about joining this knit-a-long with me and Olive (hint, hint), we are not knitting the sweater flat as suggested by the pattern.  We are knitting it in the round.  We have placed markers marks in the following places:  the start of the round, the half way point denoting front and back, and all vine patterns (start and finish).  At the start of all vine patterns, I have used the same color marker, purple, to cue me that that this is where the vine pattern begins.  This is so that I can talk to Olive and not think too much.   

The sweater is constructed from the bottom up and the first 7 rounds are garter stitch (purl the first round).  We are now well on our way into the established vine pattern; we have finished the decreased rounds (me almost) and have started the increase rounds (Olive).  We are having no troubles so far …

The Martini Knitter

Monday, January 9, 2012

Olive in Delft

As you may know, this is not Olive’s first trip to The Netherlands.  In previous trips, she has seen many sights and attractions here.  But one of the places she has not seen is Delft. 

Seven years ago when we first arrived here, we went to Delft to visit the Royal Delft Porcelain Factory.  It’s a small factory with a self-guided tour about a 20 minute walk from the city’s center.  You get to watch how simple porcelain turns into beautiful Delft Blauw (blue).  But one of the coolest things you can do at the factory is participate in a “painting workshop.”  We took our girls here during our first trip to Delft and they painted a tile that  we still have on display in our home today.  On that day, there was an artist there to show the girls how to paint the tile like the real artists in the factory do and we were also able to talk to her about how she landed this cool job at the factory.  I remember her telling us it’s a labor-intensive process including several interviews, an extensive portfolio, and letters of recommendations.  It’s approximately 7 years from the day your start as an apprentice to the day you become an official Royal Delft porcelain artist.

Olive and The Shaker inside the factory
And then … no excursion is complete without checking first if there is a local knitting shop close by.  I checked on Ravelry to see what the local yarn shops are in Delft (look under “yarn”); and just my luck, there is one right behind all of the tourist shops in the center!  The shop’s name is Knotten Wol and it is just a few doors down from Vermeer Centrum Delft.

We went in spent about 15 to 20 minutes just looking around.  They had a little bit of everything in there.  Nothing too extensive and everything moderately priced; a little bit of sock yarn, a little bit of bulky and DK weight yarn, and the normal mohair fingering weight.  Any yarn weight you may want, they have it.  They also have a nice supply of needles and knitting notions, and some other fun accessories like stitch markers, necklaces and key chains. And, of course the added bonus of the staff speaking English. 

I only bought one thing: handbag handles because I didn’t need any more yarn (for the moment).  But I did land Olive with a cool “shopper bag” provided by Lana Grossa Yarns that says “Wool is Cool” for free!

And lastly, something for everyone … while you may want to look at yarn, but the people you are with may not, there is a whiskey shop smack dab next door to check out.  You can get your whiskey and your yarn in one go!

Whiskey on one side and Knotten Wol on the other

The Martini Knitter

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Day in Utrecht

I forgot to tell you a few more details about the Flurry sweater project.  One of them is that each part of the sweater is knitted flat and then seamed together at the end.  The sleeves are raglan; and for a raglan sweater it’s easy to knit in the round and connect the sleeves as you go creating a sweater with little to no seaming.  So when Olive and I found the sale on Rowan Scottish Tweed we brainstormed and thought that if we knitted this together then we would be able to work through any difficulties with each other. 

As you know we worked on hard on our gauge swatches on Tuesday night and I got my gauge swatch to this:  21 stitches equals 4 inches on size US 3 (3.25 mm) knitting needles.  I also found that I would have to hold the yarn a little tighter and the needles not so tight to reach my gauge.  So I went upstairs to my sewing room to see if I have size US 3 circular knitting needles. And I found that I needed needles for the Flurry sweater project!  I have a card listing all the sizes and lengths of my knitting needles and I do have a size US 3 16-inch needle but I needed a 24-inch length.  So twist my arm, I have to go to the yarn shop …

Olive is making her "Flurry" in gray

I am making my "Flurry" in blue
So yesterday, Olive, Vermouth and I took the train to Utrecht to go to Modilaine.  The weather was better yesterday; the gale force winds stopped, there was no rain and the sun was shining from time to time.  Vermouth came along too as she wanted to get out of the house because she has been working most of her holiday break on a project that is due in a few weeks.  Plus there is a Starbuck’s in the train station in Utrecht and … well … you get the picture.   But Gin decided not to come because she had been sick for part of this break and she needed to study for exams that start up at in a week.
Lijnstraat 22
Now you might be on to me with this rational, I had to pay for a train ticket to Utrecht and I wanted my money’s worth of that that ticket.  I went in to buy needles and walked out with the needles and yarn to make Pei by Michele Wang with very little encouragement from Olive I might add. I bought Rowan Fine Tweed in blue for this project.  Olive said that she made it in a couple of days and the stiffness of Rowan yarn would make this scarf stand up like in the picture.  But I digress …

I am sooo happy that we went out yesterday because this morning I woke up to gale force winds and rain! No joke, it sounds like a Category 2 hurricane outside as I type.  I will be happy to be staying in today and knitting with Olive. 

Olive in front of one of Jigger's favorite "haunts" here in Utrecht

The Martini Knitter

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

We Hit a Sale!

There is a shop that is approximately 10 kilometers from me.  I always forget about it and I really don’t know why.  It’s called “‘t Hobby Hoekje” meaning “hobby corner”.  What is even worst, it’s right around the corner from the girls’ school!  There are 2 floors and the upstairs is mainly all quilt fabric and notions.  A really nice selection of colors and themes, just like you would find in an US quilt shop.  And the downstairs has always been the yarn along with other craft items that are the trend.  For instance, when we first move here the craft trend was beading, so they had a really nice beading section; sadly, that is gone now.  But they have always had yarn …

And yesterday I saw for the first time, how much yarn ‘t Hobby Hoekje has!  (Remember, I have been only been knitting for about  2 years). They have a really nice large section in the back part of the ground/1st floor; as well as a nice large selection of color and different textures.

The weather has been really gray and rainy since Olive has arrived and to top it off, we had gale force winds coming from England to us.  I knew that Olive needed to block her Advent Scarf and I needed to buy blocking mats.  And I thought this shop would be a nice shop to go and see and, plainly, to just get out of the house!  I just received 2 sets of yarns for Christmas to make sweaters so buying yarn wasn’t really in my plan.  Until …

Now in my defense (to The Shaker), I did see the sign that said “pick up 4, pay for 3” (translated from Dutch to English) and I just walked by.  Olive needed just a skein of yarn to go with a scarf that she is finishing and a set of double pointed needles for another project.  I was just looking!  We were heading towards the end of the yarn section when we saw another sign that said this: 50% korting.”  And you know exactly what that means: 50% off!  But we didn’t know how great a deal it was until we bent down to see what it was:  Rowan Scottish Tweed.  Now I have seen sales here but never Rowan yarns on sale and at 50% off.

The night before Olive and I were having wine and talking and looking at knitting magazines.  I said that I really liked the sweater pattern on the back of one of the magazines advertising Classic Elite Yarns.  The pattern is called Flurry and you could download the pattern as a PDF.  So when we saw the Rowan yarn sale, Olive suggested why not make it with that?  Now we did have a few questions about the yarn and what was needed to make this sweater.  So I called Vermouth and she read out to us the requirements.  We did some math calculations and then checked to make sure that there was enough yarn and that yarn dye lots were all correct.  And I swear, it was like the yarn faeries were all in a line yesterday calling to us to buy, buy, buy this yarn!  The ‘t Hobby Hoekje had enough yarn for each of us to make this sweater!
The basket has both yarn for me and Olive
I am making blue and she is making a gray sweater

So we came home and started on our gauge swatch.  It took Olive about 3 tries to get gauge and for me … almost all night!  I discovered that I really am a loose knitter compared to Olive.  As of this moment, I am making the sweater on size US 3 needles and the Flurry pattern a size small.  Which is too funny, as I am not a small and haven’t been for many many moons!

The Martini Knitter

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Me and Olive
First of all I would like to wish everyone a happy and joyous 2012.  As you some of you may know, the last day of 2011 and the New Year day 2012 started off with a bang!  Olive arrived safely in Amsterdam on December 31st.  She is here for 3 weeks unless Gin and Vermouth are successful in finding her passport and confiscating it!  So for the next few weeks the blog will be full of our antics together.  Yes, we are knitting!  I will have to post what she is working on.

Let me start with that, the Advent Scarf. I am still on Day 4, while Olive finished hers!  It is beautiful. Hers is a beautiful red from MadelineTosh. And she isn’t bragging too much about it being finished. 

She says that it still needs to be blocked
Off to (hopefully) buy blocking pads today!
New Year’s in Europe is always a special night.  The night is usually spent with family and/or close friends having a nice meal and then at midnight having “oliebollen” for good luck in the coming year.  Basically, an oliebollen is deep fried piece of dough and it’s served with powered sugar.  And, of course there are fire works and champagne … 

The make-shift bar on the back of my car with oliebollen
The Shaker with Gin and Vermouth
On New Year’s 2010, Olive was visiting us along with 3 (out of 4) of her sons. One of the sons, Jigger* helped The Shaker with the fireworks.  They went out and selected a nice assortment of fireworks and then together they set them off using our umbrella stand they converted into a “launching pad.”  We begged and pleaded with Jigger to come again, but as he is a college student he needed to stay in the US.  The Shaker had no problem in getting the launching pad in working order for the fireworks; however, he did miss Jigger’s assistance!
The Launch Pad
(the gray haze is from everyone firing off fireworks)

After the fireworks were done, I had bought earlier in the week two “Happy New Year” small hot air balloons to be released this night as well.  A few years ago our next-door neighbors had one and it looked so beautiful floating off into the night sky that we just had to have one this year for us.  Well … they can be easily lit but trying not to burn the parachute is another matter.  It takes 2 to 3 people … I’m sorry, but this is starting to sound like one of those jokes: “how many people does it take to screw in a light blub …” Yes, it takes 2 to 3 people to get the balloon launched.  One of person obviously lights it and then it takes that person and 2 other’s to help open up the parachute.  Now the directions do say (in English) to open up the parachute and get some air into the balloon before igniting  -- we did that.  But then you need to help the parachute trap the hot air.  We managed to get Olive’s launched before it hit a tree! It did hit the tree and then it came down with no problem resulting to the tree (or balloon).   But as luck would have it this summer, one of Vermouth’s hockey mates moved in 2 doors down and her father is a fireman!  He supervised the whole non-event.  

But we do think we found a trick to lighting the balloon – a blow dryer.  Where the directions say, “open up and get air into the parachute,” turn on the blow dryer (at this point) to heat up the parachute.  THEN light the fuse pack and this may help get the balloon off the ground.  Ours, sadly, never got off the ground as it started to burn a hole into the parachute.  As an added precaution, we did have a watering can close by filled with water. 

*A few months ago Jigger’s real name was revealed.  He said that he was disappointed in not having a “cool” name. From now on, he will be referred to as Jigger, (Olive’s son).  This is my official statement in the matter:  “Jigger, I apologize.  It won’t happen again.”

The Martini Knitter