Friday, December 31, 2004

2004 Knitrospect

So many yarns, so little time! This may seem such a cliche and yet it is so very true. For me, I don't have a large stash (if you want to know what is a large stash, check it out in KR Forum ... but be prepared to be shocked!), thus it should be "so many patterns". In face of all the patterns coming out once every quarter and all those one can find in pattern books as well as free patterns everywhere, I, as a new knitter, had the feeling of visiting Le Louvre for the first time without a site map and not knowing French ... and felt like screaming at the top of my voice, "Where should I start?" A sweater? That would be nice but it takes a long time to knit up. Then, scarves? Faster ... but I live in California ... one, at most two, scarf would be enough. How about an afghan? Challenging, but it takes ages to knit, not to mention the sewing up and finishing. Socks, then, you may say. But perhaps I should get used to knitting with 2 needles or a circular first before attempting to hold 5 needles at the same time.

And so in such confused, dazed and bewildered state of mind did I start my knitting. I chose a sweater that has a seemingly complicated design and I thought I would like to knit that. Of course, I found it beautiful, too; but what appealed to me more was the challenge. I paid little consideration to whether the style of the sweater suited me. It turned out the sweater is a bit too feminine, which is okay ... but it would be better if it is something that can go with casual jeans. Still, it has been a fun experience ... and brought me great sense of success.

After knitting for about 3 months, I came to understand that I am a process knitter who enjoy exploring into different fibres, techniques and styles. I love the challenge of complicated textures rather than colour combinations. I like to knit things that are practical and usable. I am not a yarn snob and I don't think I like novelty yarns. I don't like the idea of having to rush to finish a project so that I can still wear it in the short remaining season.

Armed with such self-knowledge, I worked out a rough plan for my projects to come. I also plan to keep a better and more organized record of my works. Thus the 2 new sections on my sidebar - Finished Projects Gallery and Projects to Come.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Another Storm

Another winter storm system has approached the Bay Area. Right now, it is raining cats and dogs. As if having the sixth sense, I grabbed the camera with me this afternoon and took these pictures of the blue sky and white clouds while Husband was driving to work.

I wonder: when will the rainbow come?




I started swatching on the Mystery Kit last night. I want to keep the mystery so I won't tell too much what exactly it is here. But it would be my first felting project. This is where the question comes. I don't know if the tension of felting project is deliberately more loose. The kit suggested using US10 needle but I have to use US10.5 to get the right gauge. Anyway, the color is gorgeous, isn't it? It reminds me of autumn leaves. This time I took the picture with the daylight and the color is more true to life. I will keep on posting pictures showing the progress so that you can guess what the FO is.

It seems that getting the gauge correct isn't easy for me, especially with thicker yarns. When I swatched on the Blue afghan, the measurement was a little bit over 4".


Yet, when I measure the first block, it is 9.5", instead of 8"!!!



What is going on? I don't want to frog it as it doesn't really matter if the FO is wider. But my worry is I may not have enough yarns to finish the project. What should I do?


This morning when I learned that the death toll of the tsunami catastrophe was climbing towards 80,000, I was stunned for seconds. I cannot believe it. Scenes of the roaring waters on the TV felt like scenes from the Bible to me. Then I read Stitchy McYarnpants' blog, the first thing that came to my mind was a quote from King Lear:

As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods;
They kill us for their sport.

I studied King Lear at my tender age, and for whatever reason I don't know, this line was like a seal branded into my mind. At various moments in my life, it kept leaping out into my consciousness. It is too painful just thinking about it - the transciency and fickleness of Life. Ironically, after days of grey sky and rain, the sun is now shining bright outside my window. Maybe the only thing we can hold on to is these moments of sunshine when they are here.


Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Rhapsody in Blue

Nope, there is no mistake. I just finished the first sampler afghan on Christmas day and now I started a second one. This one is also a sampler. Surprisingly, I love making afghan ... especially when I am knitting on the sofa, which is now covered with my first project. I can feel the satisfying feeling that something I made myself is being really useful ... much more so than wearable projects. The sweater I made I've only worn for a few times.
I've been reading some afghan-knit-along blogs and I am amazed at how beautiful some are. I am brewing the idea of the Great American Afghan.

Sam Goody Bad-Gift Boycott

The city where I live has a weekly newspaper in which citizens can write and express their views and opinions about almost anything. In the issue for the week of Christmas, there was this article which I think is pretty interesting (at least it caught my attention and I really read something from the newspaper for once!) and worth sharing, especially with my fellow knitters.

"You Really Shouldn't Have:" The Top Ten Worst Gifts from Last Christmas
Some people have the knack for dreaming up the perfect gift for friends and loved ones during the holidays. Most of us, however, are susceptible to the pressure and lack of creativity that can often lead to the last minute purchase of a gift in bad taste. Givers of bad gifts often mean well, but end up becoming a chapter in the receiver's memories of gifts gone wrong.
Last year, Sam Goody hosted a Bad-Gift Boycott on December 26, inviting bad-gift recipients to "return" their unwanted gifts to Santa. A large dumpster overflowed with chintzy toys, useless gadgets, homemade "art", dreadful book titles and unwanted clothing.
The following is a list of the 10 worst gifts collected at the Sam Goody Bad-Gift Boycott. Let them serve as a warning to bad-gift givers everywhere:
  1. Clown Art - in the form of prints, statues, T-shirts and towels. Who knows, clown art might make resurgence in the years to come, but for now, resist the urge to purchase anything clown-related. Whether it's a happy clown or a sad clown, the receiver of your gift will resemble the latter.
  2. Homemade sweaters - Remind yourself that the person who knitted the garment at least thought enough of you to take the time to create it, regardless of how itchy and ill-fitting it may be.
  3. Puzzles - A good puzzle can be a great way to get the family together. However, be wary of giving a puzzle to anyone between the ages of 15 to 25. This age group sees the concept of working on a puzzle akin to watching grass grow.
  4. Tube Socks - Many stores carry them in packages of three at prices thrifty holiday shoppers can refuse. Retro is in, but not THAT in.
  5. Ties - Ugly ties, along with the fruitcake, have become a bad gift cliche. Yet, both items arrived in droves at last year's Bad-Gift Boycott. Ladies, trust us, go easy on the ties this year.
  6. Exercise Videos/Diet Books - Even if the package is adorned with multiple bows, it is impossible to give a gift of this ilk without offending the receiver. A gift/hint of this nature is as subtle as a battering ram.
  7. Undergarments - Women typically choose boxer shorts with overly cute designs that men can't wear to the gym. Men typically choose something too risque - your average woman wouldn't wear them in a million years. Men, trust us, go easy on the lingerie.
  8. Padded Toilet Seat - What were you thinking?
  9. Sausage Sample Pack - Sausage is best in small quantities. Very few people really, truly have a need for 10 different kinds of sausage at any one time.
  10. Drug Store Perfumes - It's cute if a very young boy buys it as his first gift for Mom, other than that, cheap perfume is wrong on too many levels to actually list.

-Santa Clara Weekly Vol. 34, No. 53

I don't know if the author requested it or what, I had no way of finding who he/she is. Nor was I able to find the homepage of the newspaper so that I can save time typing it out.

Do you learn something?

Monday, December 27, 2004

Soon-to-be-frogged Dishcloth



I started this last night, using the Sugar 'n Cream cotton balls I bought some time ago. Since it is just dishcloth, I didn't do the swatching. I followed the label instruction and used US9. When I finished this morning, I felt that the cloth was too soft ... not good for a dishcloth. When I checked the pattern (No.9 from "Dishcloths By The Dozen"), the instructions said using US8. This is why! So, I am going to frog it and knit another one.

Sock knitting is fun!



It is just as everybody has said - it is fun and it knits up fast (though the yarn is fingering weight). I use Sally Melville's basic sock pattern from her "Knitting Experience". However, I don't really like the touch of this yarn (Plymouth Sockotta) very much ... not soft enough.
This is also the first time I use DPNs and knit in the round. I don't know why, but I feel knitting in the round using DPNs appears to be very cool ... like a very savvy knitter. I showed Husband the little round thing I knit and he was amazed. "Wow, you can do that! You are good!" Ha!

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Buche de Noel



Real delicious dessert is hard to find here in California ... especially when you have a French husband who loves chocolate cake. Finally this year, we were able to find a satisfactory Buche de Noel for Christmas dessert. It didn't really look too fancy, like the one we had last year with all those plastic decorations. But it tasted good. The icing was not overtly sweet, which is very often the case here, though it was a bit too thick to my taste. Since I was not sure how the Buche de Noel would turn out to be, I picked some mini tarts as back up. Yummy!


Breaking News!

I finished my afghan last night! Besides, I even managed to sew up the other gauntlet. So, two more FO (finished objects) added to my 2004 list. Considering the fact that I just picked up knitting again back in September, this is really not bad. I didn't have time to take pictures today, though.

The weather was really not good today. The sky was grey and cloudy the whole day and there had been rain now and then. I learned from the news that high up in the sierra mountains, there are snow storms. Yet, nothing compared to the disasters in Asia. This afternoon, I tried to see if there would be news reports on TV. Nope! I mean I had to wait until the hourly news that I could see some footage on CNN. On Fox, somebody was interviewing this chef who made dessert for Bush in the White House. Big deal. On MSNBC, it was "Headlines and Legends" ... even better. When there were these hurricanes attacking Florida earlier this year, ALL the news channels bombarded you with round-the-clock reports, even though most of the time they were just repeating the same footage which must have been shown 100 times and no actual new things to report. But now more that 12,000 have been killed already and the death toll is surely to rise, and you show me Bush's dessert chef? But to be fair, I just watched for 45 minutes. Maybe they all had detailed reports after I turned off the TV.



Back to my knitting. I started swatching on my first socks. The yarn I am using is Plymouth Sockotta. The DPNs are from Plymouth too. I quite like working with fingering weight yarn. I hope this pair of socks will turn out to be good as I am knitting for Husband. He is always complaining socks bought from shops are too tight on the cuffs.

Two Hours Later ...



I think this is all I can do for tonight. The gauge is absolutely accurate ... 7 stitches to 1 inch. I have been staying up late for several nights lately, so I am actually feeling very tired. One last post and then I'm off to bed.


What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?





Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence



You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.




Which Book are You?

Timeline

You are Timeline (Michael Crichton); you are
energetic, passionate, scientific, and very
intriguing in your history. You are the perfect
mixture of quantum physics and european history
of the High Middle Ages. Your characters are
thought out, dynamic, and interesting. You are
thrilling. Go visit your old friend's grave in
a medeivel chapel.


Which Book are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Which Historical Personage are You?

You are Cleopatra; allegedly seductive,
intelligent, and ambitious. The common
perseption of you is decadent and sexual,
though you only had two lovers. Julius Caesar;
who was just as quick-witted and intelligent as
you, and the famous Mark Antony, someone strong
and handsome, but someone whose unintelligence
bothered you plenty. You knew nine languages,
and married your younger brother when your
father, a pharoah, died.


Which Historical Personage are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Which Classic Novel do You Belong In?

mysteriesudolpho



Your belonging in The Mysteries of Udolpho is quite
evident; a world of intrigue, melancholy,
sublimity and terror. You belong where there
are danger, gloomy edifices, and evil Italian
guardians. Your passion for the passion of the
Mediterranean, the divine contemplation of
nature, and for adventure stories, makes you a
prime contender for a spot in a gothic romance.


Which Classic Novel do You Belong In?
brought to you by Quizilla

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Christmas Present

This is Christmas day and this early morning, I received a very very sweet and cozy Christmas present.
My MIL and GMIL were gathering at the house of Husband's aunt for their Christmas celebration. Because of the different time zones, we had to stay up late (or early?) to call them at 4 a.m. Since the conversation was carried out in French, I could only get the translated version from Husband. The weather there has been really cold this week. This was the perfect time for MIL to show off the scarf I made for her during her visit last month. GMIL and aunt were both jealous of the gift she received. According to Husband, GMIL wanted to have "the exact same scarf in the exact same color" while aunt asked if she could have "the same scarf in green". Being appreciated is the greatest gift one can hope to get.
So now, new items are being added to my projects-to-do list!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Mystery Kit #3



I received the kit today. I chose the option surprise when I bought it and you know what? I got the color I wish I get! I would start swatching it right after I finish my afghan.

BTW, I picked up the sewing of the afghan this morning 3 a.m. while Husband was playing game online. Now there are 3 more stripes to sew. I am confident that I can finish it before 2004 ends.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I felt so guilty ...

when I saw the pile of the unfinished afghan next to my bed! I have spent so much time knitting them up but now they are just lying there idly, serving no purpose! I should give them enough respect by really finishing the project and give it life. All I need to do is some sewing and crocheting. So, my Christmas resolution (if there is such a thing) is to make this afghan one of my 2004 finished projects.

Received email from Inspiration Yarns' Margaret telling me that my mystery kit is on its way to me! This is my first time buying hand-dyed yarn and a kit. Since it is a mystery kit, I don't know what it is! Can't wait!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

100 things about myself?

It seems many bloggers have such a list on their blogs. At first, I thought it was one of those pre-set questions the blog host asks while you try to set up your profile ... and felt a little bit intimidated. How do I get so much time to think of so many things about myself?
I don't know about others, but for me, I seldom go beyond no. 15 while reading those lists in blogs. So, I've been thinking ... why bother building such lists if everybody is like me? It's obvious. People do it more for themselves than for others.
Maybe some day I will have my own 100 things about myself ... but not today.

New use of wine charms




These wine glass charms was part of a holiday gift basket from Husband's company a year ago. We have never used them and I just kept them in the cupboard. Then, one day I surfed to Glampyreknits' page in which she teaches how to make beaded stitch markers. Don't they look just like wine charms? I immediately scoured mine from the cupboard and put them inside my knitting bag. So far, I seldom need to use stitch markers. But hey, you never know, right?

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Preparing for Christmas



Husband thought he had waited long enough. He asked me yesterday, "Are you going to put up the Christmas tree this year?" Last year, I did it around Thanksgiving. This year we were out of town during Thanksgiving. Then MIL came visit for a week. After that, we had some kind of drama with our family physician. I still have to write some letters concening that. Then, I got hooked up with this blog building thing.
Today, I finally got into our garage-turned-storeroom and took out the Christmas tree. This is our 4th Christmas together and this tree has been with us since the beginning. Both of us thought having a real tree was not a very good idea. So, we went to the shop and bought this small one, whose size is good enough for our apartment.
I also did some Christmas grocery shopping today. I got duck breasts, goose liver mousse, rustic pate ... yummy. We also got a bottle of champagne ready. With some vegetables, fresh bread and dessert to be bought on Christmas day, we are all set for Christmas dinner. Hey, we don't spend our dough like this every day ... after all, it's Christmas!

Finally did it ...

I finally figured out how to get the KRWebring HTML code into my blog! Besides, I also added some fun stuff - the UnkyMoods icon and the weather girl. *Bunny Dance*

Monday, December 20, 2004

My Knitting 20 Years Ago

My friend Esther left a comment saying that she still has the sweater I made for her years ago! Yes, that would be about 20 years ago, I think! I don't really remember how that sweater looked like. Back then, I did try knitting something, including a vest for my first boyfriend. If there is any truth in "The Curse of the Love Sweater", I am sure mine has contributed to it. I can't really blame him for not wearing it ... if I can only use one word to describe it ... "disaster" would be it.
I should send Esther an email asking her to take a picture of that sweater.

Crossroads Trading Co.



I have read about this fashion-recycling shop for a while. Last Friday, I finally went there. Buying second-hand clothing is a new experience to me. When I left HK, it was popping up as a new line of business, but mostly fashionable items from celebrities. I've been to Goodwill stores here several times but none there attracted me into buying. However, I found something I like in Crossroads. The cotton red sweater is Ann Taylor LOFT ... $7. The Mook's jean skirt is even better ... $6.5 50% off ... that means $3.25!
They went straight into the washing machine and are now ready to wear!

A Foggy Day



It was the first time I've seen such thick fog here which lasted for so long. Usually, the sun would come out at most around 10, then the fog would be dispersed. However, this picture was taken at 11 this morning.
The fog was not good for commuters and air travelers, yet it seemed to make everything more beautiful.

Current Project



This is my current project - Barnyard Guernsey from "Knitting the New Classics". I used Peruvian Collection Highland Wool in Mocha Cream. I have finished the back and just started on the front. I love working on textured pattern as I find it very challenging. The sense of satisfaction is especially great when I finally get to the logic behind the pattern and don't have to stick to the pattern sheet anymore.


Picot-edged Gauntlets




Following the pattern in K1 magazine, I knitted these up in 6 hours. I used one ball of Lion Brand Microspun in black, following exactly the instructions of the magazine. Yet, I just sewed up one!
My experience is: LB Microspun is not a pleasant yarn to work with.

My First Sweater



This is my first sweater. The pattern is Rowan's Short Raglan Sweater. I used Rowan Magpie Aran Dapple. The knotted edging was what attracted me when I looked at the picture of the sweater. It turned out that the style is a feminine one and doesn't go too well with jeans. So, I wear black pants with it.
There is a little secret: I made a mistake on the right raglan cable on the back.

Let's start from the beginning


My first scarf

Since I intended this blog to be a record of my knitting works, let start with this first scarf. I really can't recall why, after so many years, I suddenly had the idea of picking up knitting again. I just did. I went to Michael's and picked up a ball of Bernat Boa because there was a pattern on the label, saying that I only needed one ball to complete this, and I paired it with the suitable needle. Then I went home and started working on it. This is where the story of my knitting in the valley started ...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Pictures added

Just downloaded and installed "Hello", which helps me to upload pictures to my blog. This is so cool! The most important thing is it is extremely easy to use. I think this is all I can do today, and am indeed very happy with the results.

Roses


I followed the pattern in K1 magazine and made these roses for my MIL. I used Caron Wintuk.

Windy City Scarf



This is my MIL wearing the windy city scarf I knitted for her during her visit. Pattern from "Stitch & Bitch" using Moda Dea's Sassy Stripes.

My First Afghan



The pattern was taken from "Family Circles Easy Afghans". Since it was my first attempt, I used Red Heart Super Saver in the various colours. I am glad that I did. Even though it is all acrylic, the whole bunch is quite weighty.

Setting up my own blog!

I have been visiting many other knitters' blogs for some time. It is something very new to me. The adventurous nature in me has been lurking to give it a try. Yet I kept delaying. Finally, I found a motivation to put this into action.

Having left Hong Kong for more than 3 years, I always tried to keep in touch with my friends there. However, writing emails to different groups of individuals can be very time-consuming. Now, with this blog, I think it would become easier and more direct to update them with my life here. Besides, I would also use this as a record of my knitting work.

So, here is the first post of my blog. I have yet to figure out how to upload pictures. For the time being, I can just offer something very basic and primitive.