Sunday, July 31, 2005

Prolific July

So you still remember the Manos Love Affair Scarf, right? I have to find another yarn for the scarf I intended for my niece. If she shares the same temperament as my brother, i.e. her father, then her tolerance of anything itchy around her neck is close to zero. Somehow, I have the impression that Kathy has a similar high degree of tolerance, therefore, I decided to give Berroco Plush a try.

So I started doing search in eBay and found some good deals. But it was supposed to be a Christmas present, I didn't feel I need to hurry this much. Besides, I just wanted to make sure. Then, Diane left a comment on the post recommending Yarn Dogs ... which seems a really nice and cozy place. So, off I drove to Los Gatos on Friday afternoon.

Charming little town center with lots of nice shops is Los Gatos. Yarn Dogs is true to its impression given in its webpage. The lady running the shop is very friendly but not intrusive. I felt comfortable just browsing around the shop. There is a large selection and varieties of yarns ... they even have quivit, which I think is as luxurious and expensive as cashmere, am I right? Finally, I found the Plush I was looking for. While searching in eBay, I planned to buy precious pink. But then I saw orange flash, which I would never consider buying just by looking at the computer screen. But in person, this colour is just so lovely! So, here I present to you my 6th FO (wow!) in July:

Yarn: Berroco Plush Col: 1920 Orange Plush
Gauge and Needle: Gauge not really important. Cast on 25 stitches and knit in garter stitch using US10
Finished measurements: 6.5" x 52"
Time used: 4 hours














Now, I just need to remember to tell my sister-in-law that this thing has to be handwashed! The same with the Mystery Kit #4, which I gave away to Husband's best friend. He is an avid snowboarder/skiier. I am afraid he would just throw the gift into the machine!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

My new baby!

It's just interesting to see how one thing leads to another. First is knitting ... then is the knitting blog. To get better pictures of my knitting FOs for the knitting blog, I get to know more about my camera and this act of taking photos. And then of course, things never just stop there. I have been having the idea of such a blog for quite some time, A Picture's Worth is certainly the inspiration and initiation. You can see my skills are indeed very amateurish, but that's a start ... and the most important thing is ... I'm enjoying it!

So, if you have minute to spare, you are all very welcome to my new photo blog. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I am getting better ... I think, at least!

For most of the sweater projects, I tended to follow the instructions closely. I am the type who would prefer to stick to the instructions. This is mainly due to my lack of confidence - I don't think I would getter better results by making changes. The Red Tivoli Tee is my first step in getting a little bit away from the instructions.

My next sweater project is a challenge. You'd have a better view of the sweater here since I am making it in navy blue. It is a drop-shoulder pattern. I'd like to knit it with set-in sleeves. Therefore, these are what I always have around me these days:

The Ann Budd book proves to be a very useful one, especially for new knitters who are attempting to make changes to patterns or to design their own. Right now, I have finished the armhole shaping of the back. A few more inches and I can shape the shoulder.

And here is a close-up of the neck band. It is quite intriguing to me as I know for sure that following the instructions wouldn't give you such a beautiful and neat neck band. It looks really like the tubular cast-on edge. So, I checked my reference books and found that there is actually a "tubular bind-off" method! So, when the time comes, I would enlist the help of Nancie Wiseman's book, which is another useful technique book.



BTW, have any of you noticed that Nancie Wiseman and Yarn Harlot look very much alike?


Book Review
Talking about books, I got a complimentary copy of Maran Illustrated Knitting & Crocheting from the publisher. I spent some time going through it and this thought kept coming up in my mind, "This is the one book I need to have way back when I first started!" All the basics a new knitter needs to know are there in the book, even intarsia! There are also stitch patterns and projects. What is a really BIG plus to me is the illustrations - when I say BIG, believe me, they are really BIG, see? By now, I think you must have read quite a number of knitter-bloggers reviewing on this book. I think our opinions are very consistent - it's a good reference book for new/beginning knitters. If you want to get, say your kids, who just start knitting a reference book, this is the one to go for.

Monday, July 25, 2005

I have the toes covered ... first!

I thought I would have nothing blog-worthy these days as I am knitting Husband's socks - dark colour, 2x2 rib. But maybe I was wrong.

See the sock brothers here? They are testimonies of my first successful attempt at toe-up socks!

Before starting the Chutes-N-Ladders, I had tried numerous times ... on almost all the different methods ... all to no avail. Something I've learned over the years is that whenever such a situation arises, I should just let go ... at least for a short time. It's meaningless to keep on frustrating myself. When the time comes, I'll be able to do it.



Now the time has come! I followed the instructions of Pine Tree Toe Up Socks and used the figure-8 cast on. I am not sure if it is a good idea to 2x2 rib the top of the foot. This will have to wait for the end-user's comment. But I like the shape of the toe made from this method ... and it seems quite sturdy too.




I know another challenge is waiting for me ... the short row heels! I'll update you with the progress. For now, my little friend would like to wish you all a wonderful week ahead of you:

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Rumba!

How do you like dancing? How much you know about "rumba"? You can learn more here. But "rumba" today means new socks for me!

Again, with me stealing the photo trick from nona, you can now move your mouse over the photo to see the socks comfortably nestled in my new red shoes.

I really like this cotton/wool blend sock yarn because it knitted up into a thin and comfortable fabric. The slight elasticity makes the socks fit even more snugly. A very nice and economical ($2.99 per 50g/253yds ball) sock yarn for summer time.











As you can remember, I started using this yarn for the Chutes-N-Ladders pattern, which I found to be not very suitable. So, I used the measurements from that pattern and switched to a 5k 2p ribbing. Here you have another shot of the socks:







Yarn: Dancing from KnitPicks (41% Cotton 39% Wool 13% Nylon 7% Elastic) Col: 23587 Rumba
Gauge: 36 stitches for 4"
Needle: US1.5 DPNs
Pattern: 5k x 2p ribs

In my last post, Susanne said she had problem posting link. Since she didn't leave any means by which I can contact her, I hope she is reading this. The html code I use for posting link is this:

< a href='url address' >name of the link< /a >

I hope you can succeed in putting links on your blog, Susanne.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

What are they talking about?

I have been reading fellow Blogger users writing about this new Blogger feature, saying that they could now upload images to their blog directly. I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. Everything seemed to be the same on the Blogger interface ... never had I the idea of clicking on the "image upload" button to see if there was something new. Finally, I did that last night ... and it was fantastic!

Is he the same little buddy you saw in my last post? I don't know! I just know that he is much bolder this morning. Instead of running for his life, he stood there and posed for me for a whopping 15 seconds!








Do you see what I mean by fantastic? My experience with Blogger is mostly pleasant, only on some very rare occasions had I had problem publishing and I think the comment system runs much more smoothly now. With this new feature, I don't think I would consider changing for at least another 6 months!

Monday, July 18, 2005

The Manos Love Affair

It all started with 2 balls of Lion Brand Landscape, without a purpose, purely impulsive purchase. Then I read that someone made my so-called scarf using this. I have loved this scarf pattern for a long time, so I thought I could give it a try. What was better, I thought I could give it to my niece for Christmas. The Landscape did knit up beautifully in terms of colours:


However, using US13 needles has been a torture to me! I was already using the Denise set, but my hands just felt so very tired. 4" into the scarf I already lost steam to continue ... as well as the love for this yarn. 1 ball was used, so I returned the unused one to the shop. But I still wanted to make the scarf. Part of the charm of the scarf on me is the photo - the colourway of the yarn is so beautiful! So, last Friday, I went to Commuknity in San Jose because I knew for sure they sell Manos. It is a very nice shop with a large living room which makes you feel at home. I was browsing around the shop leisurely ... all the time seeing the Manos wall opposite the living room. I was a bit disappointed because the colourways of the skeins hung there were not too impressive on me. Finally, I went up to the wall to have a closer look ... and that was the moment ... among the very deep colourways was a lonely skein of Manos 113 ... Wildflowers ... I was in love!

10 minutes later, it was mine. That same night, I cast on for the scarf ... with the terrible realization that all this time I had misread the yarn requirement. I always thought it was only using 1 skein. This one skein was the only one in the shop! I tried my luck by casting on 24 stitches instead of 30 and got a slimmer and shorter scarf, which I would call "The Manos Love Affair Scarf":



Pattern: my so-called scarf from sheep in the city
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Col: 113 Wildflower
Finished measurements: 4" by 34"
Needle: US10

In case you are wondering, yes, I'm going to keep this scarf for myself! I'll look for something else for the little girl.

I'd like to end this post by introducing you to one of my little buddies:


Usually, they are extremely fast and quiet. Last week, I managed to capture this little guy while he was feasting on the nuts I put on the fence. Actually, I interrupted his meal ... as 2 seconds later, he was gone!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Would you call me crazy?

I mean making the same tee-shirt pattern twice in a month ... am I crazy? To think more on this, actually there are several reasons behind.
1. Yes, I really like this pattern a lot ... for its simplicity and its wearability.
2. More importantly, the pattern is inspiring. After making the first one, I immediately moved on to the possibility of a narrower neckline and a tighter fit. With much examining of the pattern inside out within my brain, I discovered that I could do it. Now that the second one is done, I am having further thoughts. What if I want a wide neckline like the first one but a tighter fit like the second one? Or vice versa? Is it possible? How about the sleeves? What if I want cap sleeves? short sleeves?
3. I want to add some brighter colours to the Tivoli Gallery.
4. I have this yarn in my stash for like ages. I think I need to find a project for it.


Yarn: Cascade Bulky Fixation (7 balls, 93 yards each) Col: 3853 Rose
Yeah, you read it right ... it is Bulky Fixation. I really didn't remember why I bought this ... maybe it was because I was using Fixation for the Pretty Comfy Socks and I liked it, so I would like to try the bulky version. Anyway, it is not an easy yarn to use. What I mean is the yarn is thick and elastic ... so it would make you look bulky too, as evidenced in the fuzzy pictures! Also, even for a sleeveless tee, it is really too warm! Actually, I think the sport weight Fixation would be a much better choice, if you like this type of yarn that is!

Gauge and size: This time, I used US6 with a guage of 19 stitches per 4".

Pattern and modifications: Quite a lot of changes this time.
1. Basically, what determines the width of the neckline is the number of stitches you cast on. For this, I cast on 130 stitches. Then, you may need to have more rounds of the raglan increase to compensate for the fewer stitches in the cast on. Instead of 13 rounds, I had 15.
2. With the fewer CO stitches, the yoke is already a slimmer one, so I still cast on 15 stitches each side for the armwholes ... and you'll find that it would fit tighter. But the most important thing is not to avoid the trouble of keep trying it on. It wastes some time but would give you a better idea if you are getting something that you want. If you use a really long needle, you can save the trouble of threading a waste yarn through the live stitches. I used a 52" cord with the Denise set.
3. Furthermore, since the yoke is slimmer, I need to have 2 more waist increase rounds to accommodate my hip width. (Really need to workout more!)
4. I knew from the beginning that this yarn would curl more seriously that Cotton Ease. So, I experimented with the I-cord BO I just learned to see if it could help. The verdict is - NO. The hip edge still curls ... but as you all know already, I don't really care too much!

With the mercury climbing to near 100F constantly, I won't be able to wear this new FO now. But I am still very happy with it. It is more like an experiment for me to really dissect the pattern and come to a better understanding of it. How about you? Have you tried it yet?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Let's climb the ladder and see afar, shall we?

What do you see? I see a line of roaring cars lining up:


and the drivers are all focussing fiercely on this point:


Yes, the last weekend, I went to another autocross as Husband's official photographer again. After exploring the various settings of the camera, I can now take pretty good pictures of the cars racing through the track in high speed:


[Note: This is not Husband driving ... I just chose this picture snobbishly because it is a Ferrari! LOL!]

And of course I brought along my socks with me ... they seemed quite excited about the exposure too:


Here they are, finished but unwashed and unblocked:


Details:
Pattern: Chutes-N-Ladders from SixSoxKnitAlong
This is a fun pattern to knit. It looks complicated but actually is very easy to memorize.
Yarn: Patons Kroy 4-ply Col: 54010 Newport Tan
The yarn feels soft in the ball but after knit up, the socks are a bit stiff. I was a little bit disappointed. However, this got changed after I put them into the washer. It is machine washable in cold water. The socks become incredibly soft.
Gauge and size: 9 stitiches per inch
I made the largest size with a cast on of 80 stitches. Since I used the tubular cast on, I got 81 stitches. So, I k2tog the last stitch in the round with the first one. This also helped to minimize the gap there.
Needles: DPNs US1.5

Now I can put them away in the closet until October, when they will be sent to my father for his birthday.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Mystery Kit #4

I had great fun working on this small project. I said 'small' because it only took me 2 days to finish with the knitting part. However, I couldn't post on it because there was something I didn't like with the FO. It went very smoothly all the way until the very end. The instructions said "BO all sts snuggly" ... also the nature of the FO called for a tight bind-off edge. The instructions suggested using 2-stitch I-cord BO. Great! A new technique to learn. However, the bind-off edge was not tight at all! It really looked like a flaring trumpet! So, I tried using a needle 2 sizes smaller ...


Ooops! Part of the mystery leaked through this photo ... yes, there are 2 pieces in this project! I am quite happy with the result of using US4 needle. Besides, I really like the neatness of I-cord BO:


I must remember to mention that the yarn is really soft and the colourway beautiful (Denim). Both times I was very satisfied with Margaret's Mystery Kits. I wish she will continue with this.

I have been pondering how to blog on this project without spoiling the fun of other kit owners. Finally, this post of nona inspired me! So, if you really want to know what it is, click on the photo ... otherwise, start knitting your own kit!


Thursday, July 07, 2005

This is a sad day ...

Seeing what happened in London, every mishap here seems so insignificant! I'd like to offer this rose from my garden to all the victims and their families:



Latest development on the lost camera: Well, there actually has been no further development. The camera remains lost. However, I'd like to thank all of you for your comforting words and well wishes. The picture above was taken using a new camera. Yes, the one I lost was only one month old ... This time I have to be extra careful with this new one, otherwise, in Husband's own words, my head would have to roll on the ground! :P

May everyone have a peaceful evening. I think knitting news can wait, right?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

I am such a loser!

Every July 4th, there will be fireworks show in our city's central park, which is just next to our street. This means we can virtually watch the show from our backyard. This year is no exception. What is special this year is that the new camera we bought has a setting specifically for shooting fireworks. Cool!

Today, we went for a drive on a new route in the mountains of San Jose. The G8/McKean Road goes through several reservoirs in the area and the views are beautiful! There are also numerous farms on the way ... where we can see a lot of cows and horses! On our way back, we even saw a deer in the middle of the road! It was standing right in front of our car ... so close!

During the last few days, I did quite a lot of knitting. I finished the Mystery Kit #4 ... and I like the colourway of the kit this time. I started My So Called Scarf using Lion Brand's Landscape and I intended to give it to my niece as Christmas present. The yarn is not good ... but the scarf made from it is beautiful. I finished one Rumba sock and am now concentrating on finishing Chutes-n-Ladders.

For all these, I could have shown you lots and lots of pictures ... but I can't. All because I lost my camera! :( I discovered this on Sunday afternoon ... at the moment, I thought I was just misplacing it somewhere. So, I didn't tell Husband. What I was thinking was better not to alert him with a false alarm. But all along I was feeling extremely guilty already! Yesterday morning, after looking and checking carefully everywhere possible, I thought the loss was confirmed ... I had to tell him. I had been bottling up the bad and guilty feeling for almost a whole day ... when I told him, I couldn't help it anymore ... yes, tears help you release the guilty feeling! He said I shouldn't have suffered all these by myself ... I should have told him and we could look for it together. At the end, he said it was just a camera ...

So, I guess for the moment, I can only offer you this entry sans photos!

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Knitwear Review No.1

This is my first warm season knitting. After finishing 3 summer tops, and with considerable wearing, I think I can draw some conclusions for future reference.

Cabled Vest: I like knitting and wearing cable patterns ... they are beautiful and fascinating. However, I think I would not knit another light-coloured summer cotton top in cable pattern again. Because of the nature of the pattern, the cables would get dirty easily. And if it is in light colour, I just feel that the dirt won't go away ... or it comes back quickly. And of course, my being a bit careless and sloppy just helps to aggravate this! The yarn is also the heaviest amongst the three I have used so far. After washing, there seems to be a tiny bit of stretch width-wise.

faye: This one is beautiful in its simple pattern and the yarn is of good quality. I thought it had to be hand-washed but I just found out it is machine washable. This should make life easier! The vest stays in good shape after (hand) washed. Yet, something I learned from faye is that I would not knit another buttoned-front summer vest, especially a well-fitted one. At first I thought it was my knitting skills, but later I saw more pictures of cardigans and concluded that hand-knitted cardigans are like that. What I mean is the spaces between the buttons! Honestly, I won't just wear a bra under faye ... not that there are a lot of people trying to look inside ... it's just I don't feel comfortable. So, I have to wear another small vest or a camisole inside. The real scorching hot season is arriving and this means really hot. Therefore, sorry, no more buttoned-front vest!

Tivoli T-shirt: This one is the most comfortable amongst the three ... the yarn and the style both contribute to the ease and comfort of wearing. Cotton-Ease feels thick when knitted up but it won't make you feel hot. It's also a plus when it is machine washable and dryable. The neckline looks good but if I am going to make another one, I would make it narrower. Now I start to understand the structure of the pattern, I know how to do it! I just need to cast on fewer stitches and that would give me a smaller neckline! Easy!

After finishing Tivoli, I have been busy finishing up Mystery Kit #4. It was fun working on something you had no idea what it was. I am thinking of how to post on it to avoid being a spoiler to other kit-owners. For the time being, have a wonderful and safe Fourth of July everyone.