Wednesday, June 29, 2005

My first Tivoli

Yes, you read it right, this is my first Tivoli T-shirt. I like it ... I can see myself wearing it very often, so often that I think I would need a second one. ;) Besides, this is a super fast knit. I started last Tuesday and finished last night ... one week! I am so eager to show you my new tee-shirt that I didn't even block it ... I didn't want to wait. I just steam-ironed it to make the stitches even out and flatten the curl at the bottom a bit.



Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton-Ease Col: 106 Ice Blue
I bought this bag of 3 from Tuesday Morning for $5.99. Somebody in KR Forum said that those from this shop may be seconds. This was my first time using this yarn, so I have no way to verify that. But given the fact that I just used a little bit more than 2 balls (the last 2 inches using the third ball), I only spent around $4 on this Tee, I have no complaint about the quality, which is really not too bad. Besides, all along there were only 2 knots ... much better than some more pricey yarns.

Gauge and size: I used US7 and got 19 stitches for 4" ... basically the same as in the pattern. For the binding off, I used US8 and the result is good, I think.

Pattern and modifications: Pattern is by Kathy. After binding off for the armholes, I cast on 15 stitches each side for the underarm. This gave me a 35" finished bust measurement. I also added one more round of waist increase to give myself more ease in wearing. The length of the whole tee-shirt is 21".

Special features: This is a knit-in-the-round top-down pattern. The most exciting part of knitting is to see how the increased stitches form the square neckline and raglan shoulders ... like magic to me! The stockinette stitches do make the garment curl a bit, especially at the bottom ... but this doesn't bother me too much as it adds to the casual touch of the tee-shirt.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Here I come, SixSox-ers!

I finally made a debut with the SixSoxKAL pattern! This time I used Patons Kroy 4-ply in Tan ... yeah, compared to Rumba, this is quite a boring colour ... and I have tons of them in my stash! LOL! If I want Husband to wear the socks I am going to make for him to work, stay with the boring colours!

I was excited because this time, I used the tubular cast-on method without referring to any reference books or notes! This means I have mastered the method! And because I am using wool blend, the cast on is less wonky than the cotton blend:



This cast on also got the approval of Husband, who has been complaining about the tightness of the long-tail cast-on row. However, I highly suspect if he is going to like this Chutes-n-Ladders pattern ... the chutes are too much like little snakes along the leg! Therefore, they would become birthday gift for my father in Ocotber. I think he would be surprised that not all hand-made socks are thick ... he has only seen the pair I made with Cascade Fixation. ;)

A little episode on Saturday. We took an impromptu drive to the mountains but since we had limited time, we only managed to drive to Saratoga. I casually mentioned to Husband that there was a knitting store there. To my surprise, he suggested we made a stop there! When we entered the store, his first response was "This is a nice store!" "Isn't it beautiful here?" I asked. "Yeah ... so beautiful that one would like to buy everything!" was his answer, and he meant it ... not in the sacastic way! Since we were in a hurry, we only stayed for 5 minutes. When we left, he asked, "Are you sure you don't want to get anything here?" Oh sure, but maybe next time, I said.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

One skein wonder?

No no no ... I am not working on the now much popular one skein wonder. I am just showing my amazement at how much one skein of Cotton Ease can do! Yes, I finally start using my newly built up Cotton Ease stash (... and suddenly found out I was a "junkie" reading this! ;)). I chose the Tivoli T-shirt. And while writing this, I'm also wondering why so many of us chose the similar colours? I thought Kathy's was in pink! Oh, sorry, I digress! I started on Tuesday and am now almost done with the first ball:



I am now half way through the knit-even rounds before the waist decrease. I have to confess, this is the first time I spent so much time reading through the WHOLE pattern before I start ... mainly because I had difficulty visualizing how knitting in the round can turn out a t-shirt shape like that. (I think nona expressed what I thought in the best way!) Once started, it was actually going like breeze ... especially if you are like me, who have just finished a 4-ply project!

At first I was hesitant in making this because I usually wear tops either sleeveless or with proper sleeves, but this one is neither ... I was afraid it would make my arms look thick and round. However, I think it is not bad at all:



Basically, my gauge with Cotton Ease is exactly the same as in Kathy's pattern. But I have a smaller bust measurement. So, after casting off the sleeve-caps, I cast on 15 stitches on each side instead of the 19 called for in the pattern. I used the "loop cast-on" method but now I felt that I should have used the "twisted loop cast-on" because it would be firmer. I am hoping I would get an FO very soon with this project!

I have to thank all of you for the kind words you left on my birthday post. I had a wonderful day yesterday. My brother called and I had a long chat with him and my niece before she went to school. My MIL called and sang the birthday song to me in English! When my husband returned from work, he brought this with him:



It is a pot of mini-roses! While I think cut flowers are beautiful, I love to see them with real life, in the ground or in pots, living and breathing. So, this year he bought me live flowers! I am going to transplant them into a bigger pot.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

If I could live to 80 years old

today is the beginning of the second half of my life! Yes, today is my 41st birthday. I don't normally do anything special on my birthday. But maybe I can celebrate a bit this year ... by doing something I haven't done yet in my blog. When I first started this knitting blog, Husband was a bit concerned about the risk of posting my pictures here. However, since so many of you have done so and it seems nothing wrong has happened, I think maybe I can just post some pictures on my birthday!

However, the real problem is the limited choices. I like taking pictures ... not of myself, but of the people and things around me. Also, I am not really photogenic ... so I spent quite some time choosing pictures that are good.

This is my latest picture, taken last week. I was trying on Husband's newly bought helmet for the autocross ... and I felt like an alien in that thing:


You may have seen this picture before ... but cropped! ;) I was wearing the sweater I made originally for Husband, but which ended up being mine:


This is me in the kitchen, trying to make crepe for the first time:


This was taken 2 years ago in Kauai. I was preparing to snorkel ... I love seeing all the beautiful fishes in the sea!


I was a high school teacher when I was in Hong Kong. This is one of my students from the early years of my teaching career. She visited California with her husband 1 or 2 years ago and we managed to meet up in San Francisco. This was taken in Union Square:


This is my favourite picture of myself. I was in a friend's party 3 years ago. The theme of the party was "Winter Wonderland" and they decorated the house as a ski resort ... really cool!


I don't expect to receive any birthday presents. (Every year, Husband would ask me what I want for my birthday. Every year, I would tell him there is nothing in particular that I want ... let's do away with the gift-giving thing!) But look what I received from the brown guy on Monday:

Yes, it was a surprise package from Karen. I am sure she had no idea my birthday is in this week. She said she thought of me when she saw this:


So, she sent it to me as a surprise! I have told you she is wonderful before ... but I think I have to tell you again. She is just wonderful. Thank you very much, Karen, not only for the gift, but also for thinking of me!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Rumba socks

I planned to start on the latest SixSoxKnitAlong pattern. Since it is now summer time, I chose the cotton yarn Dancing I bought from KnitPicks. The colour is called Rumba. It is not a colourway usually found in my blog ... but I think it is quite pretty. However, it just doesn't work with Chutes-n-Ladders. The colourway itself is already very loud and busy ... combined with the cables and ladders of the pattern, I just felt a bit dizzy looking at it. So, I switched to a simple p2k5 ribbing:



And believe me, it is so much better now! I'd like to be on schedule with the knit-along, so I am going to start again with a solid colour.

About the current sock, as I've told you, I tried the tubular cast on. Maybe because it was my first time, I found it a bit wonky but I would be happy with how it is:



I first tried Montse Stanley's "two-strand tubular cast-on" in Knitter's Handbook but found it a bit complicated to me. Then I tried Nancie Wiseman's method in The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques, but still didn't get it too well. But I did find Wiseman's "Chained Cast On" easy to master. Therefore, I went back to Stanley's book for a different method ... "Yarn-over tubular cast-on" and combined it with Wiseman's "Chained Cast On". This time it worked well for me. However, at the first try, there was a really big gap at the joining point. At the second try, I moved the first stitch from needle #1 to needle #4 after joining and knit for several rows before moving it back to needle #1. This seemed to help narrowing the gap. However, I had problems with Stanley's number of stitches to cast on.

... cast on half the required number of stitches - if the total is an odd number (for example, 101) cast on half a stitch in excess (51) ...



I need 70 stitches, so I cast on 35 ... but at the end I only got 69! So, I went to Kathy's post on tubular cast on and found the site to solve the problem. What I should do is to cast on half the required number of stitches plus 1. So, instead of 35, I should cast on 36.

My conclusion? Knitters are pretty hard-working people! LOL ...

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Knitting in Public

I was in Marina, CA today, accompanying Husband to a very important activity. Since it is so important, it needs to be documented. Therefore, I am also his official photographer. However, he was not driving on the track all the time. This means I had time to knit in public, well, a limited public.

And of course, the best project to bring along is sock:


I didn't expect to be able to finish a lot, since I had a job to do!


I know someone has designed a pattern for the steering wheel ... perhaps I can try to whip up one for the gear stick too!


Well, I know Husband would definitely not appreciate the idea ... he said this to me several times today, "Don't touch the gear!"

Knitting note: In case you didn't notice, this is my first try at tubular cast on ... so far so good! ;)

Thursday, June 16, 2005

And now ... let's party!

Yesterday, both Mimi and Joy had FO parties. Finally it's my turn today! So, let's get moving!



I was trying out the functions of my new camera and got these funky effects. Here are some better views of faye:



Details:
Yarn: Endless Summer Collection Lara Col: 236 Mint Cream
I like this yarn. Though tends to be splity, it is soft and knitted up well. As you can see from the picture, there is a vibrant sheen to it. It may not look too good in photo but I think it is beautiful in yarn.

Gauge and size: The gauge is exactly the same as Rowan 4-ply cotton. It is a pity that the colours available now are not my favorite, otherwise I would be tempted to get more for projects using the Rowan yarn. The yardage per ball is a little bit less than 4-ply cotton, but I only used 6 balls for the medium vest, which claims to fit 36-inche bust. However, I think maybe I should have knitted the large size, or make the medium size a tiny bit wider. You can have the proof for this in the picture of the front. This is a fitter size than the Cabled Vest.

The pattern and modifications: The pattern is from A Treasury of Rowan Knits. I made it shorter than what the pattern calls for ... a length that I like. Also, the armhole shaping for the vest is a bit deeper than the cardigan. I chose to shape mine following the cardigan. I like to have more of my shoulders covered! ;) As you all know already, there is no instructions for the armhole bands. I ended up picking up 128 stitches for each armhole, which worked out fine.

Special features: The stitch pattern is a simple one giving an effect of vertical stripes. Together with the obvious dart-shaping at the waist, this vest should have a well-fitting slimming effect ... though I'm not sure if it is enough for me ... hahaha ...


dart shaping

With faye now being an FO, the problem left for me is the leftover, which is quite substantial - 4 balls, 50g each. I am thinking if I can make a vest using 6 balls, would it be possible to make a little camisole?

Another mishap!

Not with my knitting ... but my car this time. When Husband went to take the car (my Explorer, not his Elise) to work, he discovered the right rear tyre was flat! Nothing like this has happened to us before, so we had no idea what to do. Luckily, I got this little useful tool from Costco some time ago, thinking it would be of great help just in case:


It did get the tyre inflated, on which we found a big slash:


It was a bit unnerving to us since a few months ago, one of our neighbours also discovered flat tyres in the morning. In her case, all four tyres were flat and it was obvious that somebody did that deliberately. We drove to the nearest tyre shop and have the tyre guy check on the slash. His conclusion was that we drove on something sharp on the road. According to the tyre guy, the slash mark would be different if it was deliberately made. That comforted us a little bit.

So, what I expected to be an uneventful morning when I could blog on faye turned out to be spent in the tyre shop.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

What have I done?!

If you are expecting to see an FO in this post, I am afraid to say that you'll be disappointed. I know it is about time for faye to be finished ... indeed it was THIS much near the end when I suddenly got a crazy bug in my head and did something dump and stupid!

I was in the process of sewing the buttons to the vest. The buttons were heart-shaped and I would like them to stay more or less in the same direction. So, it took me some time to figure out how to do it right. When I finally got it at the third one, I returned to the first which was a bit upside down. I was using the cotton yarn as the sewing thread ... and this is what caused the problem. I was already very very careful in discerning the sewing thread from the neckband. When I came to the final knot, I thought I got it ... and there my scissors went! And of course, I cut the yarn in the neckband! :(

I didn't think there was a better solution to this other than knitting the neckband again. The mishap happened around midnight last night. I was just too tired to do anything else but cursing myself! Luckily, I am now much faster in picking up the stitches for bands, which I think is the most time-consuming task in finishing.

Talking about knitting the bands, since there is no instruction for the armhole bands, I did some trial-and-error with them. The instructions for the neckband ask for picking up 54 stitches in the front neck. So, I started with 75 stitches respectively for the front and back side of the armhole, which I knew beforehand was too many since it was almost like picking up 1 stitch per row. But it was good to see how it really turned out:


You can see that the band is flaring away from my arm. Therefore, I estimated halfway between 54 stitches and 75 stitches would be a nice number. I settled with 64 and it looks like this:

Monday, June 13, 2005

Yes ... I cheated! ;)

Remember the ugly holes because of the M1 stitch in the seed stitch panels of faye? Here is a close-up:


I don't think I would wear the vest happily with the holes there. While weaving in the loose ends, I got inspired to mend the holes:


I was pleasantly surprised how well this turned out:


This is the wrong side of the vest ... almost no trace of the holes at all! Neat!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Almost an FO!

Not having touched the computer for several days, I mostly spent my time working on faye. Now, it's almost done. I am working on the buttonhole band. I am wondering those of you who have worked on this before ... which side you knit first? The button band? or the buttonhole band?



As you can see, I knitted the button band first ... as the lazy woman in me thought that it was the easier side. However, I now think that maybe I should have done the otherwise. Or, it doesn't really matter at all?

Fearing that the tension would not be even, I sew the band to the front as I knitted it ... making sure that the whole thing lie flat and relaxed. So far, I think it is pretty well done.

So, what's left? I have to look for buttons to go with the vest. But that would be easy. Oh yes, of course I need to knit the neck band ... AND the armhole bands. This is where the next problem occurs. I checked the pattern VERY CAREFULLY and FOR SEVERAL TIMES. However, I can't find the instructions for the armhole bands! There are 2 versions of faye, one is vest and the other is cardigan. Everything is there except the armhole bands for the vest. I think most probably Miss Hargreaves was too happy to be done with the cardigan and forgot she had put in a vest version! So, I will have to do it myself.

Plans for coming projects? As I have told you earlier, I will work on the mohair shell! Besides, the new SixSoxKnitAlong pattern is out and I will start on that too. How about you? :) Have a wonderful weekend everybody!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Just saw my MIL off in the airport ...

... and we are now home. Saying goodbye is always hard ... and as before, we won't do anything special today. I am making use of this time to post so that I won't be kicked out of the various rings! hahaha ...

I finally didn't make the cat toy. Not that I didn't have the time to knit, it's just I didn't have the concentration needed in exploring a new pattern. I did manage to finish the back of faye and started the left front, which is now at the armhole shaping. Not bad, huh? I also got the shoe size of my MIL ... so now I have more projects waiting on my to-do list. I think a pair of felted slippers would be a good idea for Christmas gift.

We didn't make any long trips out of town, mostly staying in the Bay Area. But we did visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. My MIL is a great great animal-lover, so this is a good place to take her. I've been there once and I LOVE it there because there is a section on beautiful jelly fish:



This time we were there when it was feeding time. It was an amazing sight to see the staff diving into the kelp forest to feed the fishes. Don't you feel confused looking at this picture whether it was the diver feeding the fishes or the fishes feeding on the diver?



The sea otters are the poster-kids for the aquarium ... but you won't be surprised by this when you see that they are sooooo lively, playful and cute:



One week seems really short ... but the most important thing is that she had a good time here. Judging from this picture, I think she did: