Monday, November 28, 2005

Monday morning

Just a few things on this Monday morning.

Over the Thanksgiving Bondathon on Spike (do you like James Bond?), I finished Bomber ... the pieces are ready for the washer. However, stupid me forgot to write down the washing setting for the swatches. So, I would most probably start with cold water ... and keep my fingers crossed that it works.

We are going to pick up my MIL this noon. She is going to stay for a week, during which knitting and blogging may be minimal. Feeling a bit anxious because I am going to give Kiri to her ... hope she would like it. ;) It's a pity that the weather starts to get lousy (well, exaggeration here ... just a little bit of overcast sky and showers) here when she comes.

I like the new Vogue Knitting Stitchionary ... a lot of lovely stitch swatches there.

I don't like the latest Harry Potter movie.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Tallinn

Do you know where Tallinn is? It is the capital city of Estonia. From what I saw here, it is quite a beautiful Eastern European city. You can also read more about the city here and here.

I haven't been to Tallinn, nor do I have any plan for a visit in the foreseeable future. Then why did I take such a great interest in this far away city, you may ask? Well, I wanted to know a little bit more about the place where somebody withdrew cash from my debit card account ... 3 times on the same day, that was why. I even tried looking up yarn stores in Tallinn ... somehow wishing my money would be spent there ... hahaha ...

So, check your bank statements VERY CAREFULLY every month for you own protection. For me, there seemed to be no problem for me to get my money back ... and lesson learned.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Nothing!

I have absolutely nothing to show you! Not that I haven't been knitting ... I have ... it's just there is nothing to show, yet, I hope! Maybe due to the weather, I haven't the mood to start a real winter sweater project. Sometimes you just have to have a real need to get you moving. So, instead, I picked up another UFO - the Bomber. Right now, I am finished with the increase of the first sleeve! When I last put this project down, I was bored with the mindless ribbing. Now I seem to welcome it.

I also keep working on the Wavy Lace Shawl. However, this is the problem of knitting a long rectangular shawl - once you get a hang of the pattern, it becomes a little bit boring. So, I just knit a row or two here and there ... that would eventually add up.

I had several false starts with the Great Amercian Aran Afghan. First, I got something wrong with the garter stitch border. Then, I found that the needle I used was not to gauge with that particular square I chose to start. Now, it's back to ground zero.

During one of my internet pattern-browsing sessions, I came across something I wanted to make ... a lot! Just that I don't know any recipient for the project:



Isn't it hilariously cute? It's a baby hat ... I'm not sure if there is any mother who would let her baby wear this hat, except me (that is if I had a baby myself, but that is not going to happen). So, I'm thinking of making it into adult size. But first, I have to examine the basics of hat knitting.



Husband is not a country music fan, but he "has an open mind to good music" (his own words). So lately, the song Country boy can survive got to him as a good country song. He thinks the lyrics are very romantic in their own way. Last night, he bought the song from iTunes and was browsing other country songs there.

Husband: Maybe we can buy a farm when we retire and grow our own food.
Me: (Silently knitting Bomber's sleeve) Mmm ...
Husband: And we can have lots of animals ... you can have as many cats as you want, you know.
Me: (Knitting paused) Can we have sheep?
Husband: Of course, for your wool!
Me: We should grow cotton too, then!

It's always good to have dreams. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday everybody.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Absolutely gorgeous!

The weather-people on the radio station here called it "Indian Summer" ... to me, it is even better than the real thing. The temperature is mild ... even with all that sunshine, you won't sweat a bit, yet you can still use a nicely knitted jacket or sweater ... isn't that just perfect? I knit, but I don't really look forward to the winter weather here ... which is cold, dark and wet. I much prefer the winter in Hong Kong - cold but dry.

So, the weather has been gorgeous here for a whole week, and I have been knitting a pair of gloves, which cannot be used immediately. Actually, I didn't have a single pair of gloves the whole time I was here ... not really a necessary item for me. I was more knitting out of interest rather than need. When I got the book A Gathering of Lace, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were patterns for items other than shawls. Actually, the 2 sock patterns are really beautiful ... on my to knit list.

If you like knitting socks, the chance is great that you'd like knitting gloves too. On her blog, nona has given tutorials on i-cord gloves ... starting from the fingers. That's a fun way. But I started mine from the cuff and had to re-attach the yarn for the various fingers. At first I thought I would be annoyed by this. I am happy to announce that it was not the case. Considering the small size of the FO, the finishing for gloves is enormous. Yet, I have changed a lot in my opinion of finishing work after the blue afghan and Old Tiles. I still enjoy the knitting process more than the finishing, but I am more able to see the latter as an essential part of the former, which would be incomplete and futile without good finishing. This explains why I could weave in all the loose ends (sound familiar?) without any delay and got an FO quickly.



No more Michael Jackson freak. Instead I am now Mickey Mouse! But the flash was a bit too much and the colour seemed to be not true to life. The following shot is better ... but you have to ignore my cross-eyed Mickey Mouse look!



The lace pattern is simple ... but I like the way the zig-zag pattern extends into the fingers. I think I may have made the right thumb too short, so I have to rework on it later when the gloves are dry from their bath.

Details:
Pattern and Modifications
: Vanalinn Gloves by Nancy Bush from A Gathering of Lace
No changes made to the pattern, which was very well written. It was written for woman's medium. Luckily, that fits me. If it didn't, it may not be that easy to adjust the pattern for different number of stitches.

Yarn: Peruvian Collection Baby Cashmere (60% Baby Alpaca/ 30% Merino Wool/ 10% Cashmere) Col:2020 Claret
I have used this yarn before and like it a lot as it is very soft, though it splits a bit.

Gauge and Needles: 32 stitches to 4", US2

I suddenly realized that we are nearing the end of November! So, I'd better get my brother's Broad Street Mittens started!

Monday, November 14, 2005

This is fun!

Tonight I brought along the Vanalinn Gloves when I went to pick up Husband from work. I managed to finish the little finger while waiting for him. I showed him this:

And he called me "Michael Jackson freak" ... ha! I'm loving glove-knitting!

Today is an exceptionally good day - the weather was warm, the colours of autumn were in full bloom, and I earned money for the first time in 4 years (though not too much, still a really good feeling!). I wish your day was as good as mine ... and many many more ahead!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

PPD?

Post Project Depression, that is. Well, not really what happened here. It was just knitting has taken a slower, more leisurely pace. I spent some of my time reverting to an old obsession - detective thrillers and already finished one book by Jan Burke. My first time reading her book and I quite like it, so much that I think I would get more.

However, new projects were also started. Instead of working on the gloves for my brother, I got selfish and switched to the Vanalinn Gloves from A Gathering of Lace for myself. The pair from the book were white ... but that is not too practical for me. So, I have chosen the red wine colour:


I have already made the left thumb opening. I can't get the picture to show you the zig-zag lace pattern clearly, but you can see how the gloves are supposed to look like here. About the gloves for my brother, I already got Ann Budd's pattern book ... and I would use Husband's hand as the basis for measurements. But still I would make a pair of fingerless gloves with covers, just like Broad Street.

I have also started the Wavy Lace Shawl from VK Fall 2005. The one in the magazine was a cashmere shawl ... which is not very hard-wearing, I think. I am using the Araucania Nature Wool I got from Monica's destashing. I have 6 skeins and I am into the second one now. The pattern is not too difficult and I like the colour:


See the wavy edge? I don't know why, but I seem to be always attracted to wavy pattern ...

People in my household (a total of 2!) like calling each other freaks and not take offense. I am the knitting freak ... Husband is the game freak. And I think to many of the regular visitors of this blog, I must be a mohair freak! See these 2 KSH in their Royal Highness?


After being gifted 2 balls of Jo Sharp Rare Comfort by caitlyn, I again became the lucky recipient of these 2 balls of KSH in the colour Lord ... an expected gift from joy! Thank you very very much, joy! Other than petting and enjoying their silky softness, I have not plan for them yet. But surely you'll be the first one to know if there's a change. BTW, I do have plan for caitlyn's gift. I discovered that they were the exact same yarns used for Misty Garden in Scarf Style ... and I like what I see. So, they would become my Misty Garden.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Old Tiles box jacket


"I'm crazy about deteriorating surfaces and half demolished derelict buildings - beautiful tiled surfaces found in historical houses and places of disrepute are often left with half told stories in their deteriorating state. The design inspiration came from a photograph of a weathered and corroding town wall in Portugal - the type of surface I get such a thrill from because of its sense of mystery."
Brandon Mably on Old Tiles, Brilliant Knits

I believe part of the charm of this jacket on me came from this. I like to know the stories, if any at all, behind the creation of a design. But of course the combination of the colours is the biggest attraction. I first saw this design in Brilliant Knits, fell for it. Then, saw another version in The Ulitmate Knitter's Guide and fell even harder (maybe because the model wore it better there!). In both, there is only one size and there is NO schematics. Being a really really new knitter then, I didn't realize the hidden dangers lurking underneath. Recently I got Rowan 34, in which Old Tiles appears again, this time from XS to XL ... AND with schematics ... but much duller colour combinations. I was happy that I chose the colours based on the brighter and more colourful versions.

Last night, I read my posts on the jacket again. I believe this will be the one project on which I post the most. The project was started in March this year ... but it felt like a really really long journey. Have you noticed that for this project, I started with the sleeves first, which is not my usual way? I've been secretly patting on my own back for this smart move. Starting with the relatively smaller pieces of sleeves allowed me to learn the various techniques in intarsia knitting and get used to the rhythm of knitting. This is also why I went so much faster at the end. I remember towards the end, I kept thinking that if I could ever finish this project, I could do anything ... a very empowering thought.

Since I have already spent so much time and energy on it, I would like to do everything well. After one trip to Jo-Ann's, I knew I couldn't find the suitable buttons there. After some web searches, I discovered a button shop in the area. 3 Beads & A Button is mainly a bead shop which also sells buttons. I decided on something that is simple and goes well with the main colour of the jacket:


I mentioned earlier the danger of one-size-fits-all. Luckily, it is a boxy design, so there is no problem with the body ... but the sleeves I got leaned toward the short side. Not too much, but I would be much happier if they are, say, 1 inch longer. I have been having this fear that once the jacket is done, its charm on me would be gone. You know things like this happen. But I am happy to tell you that not this time! When I finished all the final touches except the buttons on Monday night, I was already very excited to try it on and took pictures:


And I love love love wearing it! I actually wore it for half an hour in the middle of the night before taking it off! I have also decided that the jacket is meant to be worn without buttoning up:


You see what I mean? Even Husband said he liked it ... he said it had a Spanish feeling to it.

Details:
Pattern and Modifications: Old Tiles box jacket by Brandon Mably (from Brilliant Knits)
In the original design, there are 2 front pockets. But the whole thing was complicated enough for me sans pockets, so I omitted them.

Yarns: Rowan Cotton Glace (12 colours), Rowan Fine Cotton Chenille (2 colours), Elann Endless Summer Collection Sonata (3 colours)
I definitely love the Cotton Glace. The yarn is of really good quality, the colours are lovely and it doesn't split at all. On the other hand, substituting with Sonata is a result of my inexperience. Sonata is a slightly thicker yarn than Cotton Glace and it splits like hell. Now that I think about it, I may have better result substituting with Patons Grace. The Fine Cotton Chenille was discontinued long ago. But I managed to find the colours I need here. However, I don't really like knitting with chenille because it is so difficult to control the tension. I can't imagine knitting a whole sweater out of such a yarn! (But you know there are patterns out there! LOL!)

Gauge and Needles: 23 stitches to 4", US2 and US3

How would I do it differently?
This is easy - use wool. Simply out of curiosity, I put the jacket on the kitchen scale, and can you guess how heavy it is? Mind you, it is a short boxy jacket ... and it weighs a whoppy 1lb 5oz!!! Even the loose ends trimmed (am I a bit sick? I saved almost all the loose ends!!) weigh almost 4oz. So, if you are ever interested in making a similar jacket/sweater like this, no matter what cotton yarns the pattern suggests, go for wool. If I were to make this one again (well, you never know, right?), I'll definitely consider KnitPicks Wool of the Andes. If you can afford it, use Rowan KSH ... that would give you an airy lightweight jacket.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Thank you!

Did you hear my sigh of relief? Yes, I felt like achieving the unachievable ... the ten thousand loose ends were all woven in. The buttonhole band, button band and neckband were all knitted and the hems sewn. (By the way, this is really neat as the hems hide the seams ... nice!) The hems of the jacket's body were sewn. So, what's left? The hems of the sleeves. Oh, and I need 7 buttons. Yes, you can almost say that the finishing of this jacket is as much as the knitting. If I can get everything done tomorrow (I am keeping my fingers crossed!), the finishing is going to take me more than a week ... a finishing bootcamp week, you can say. When I was half-way through the weaving in loose ends, I almost reached a zen-like state - it was just like breathing that I didn't even consciously think about it anymore, everyday I woke up and it was weaving in the loose ends, as if it were the essence of my existence.

Now, I can show you Old Tile from a distance, almost done:



Before I can post on the FO, I'd really really want to thank every one of you who has encouraged me on continuing to work on this project. I know very well that without your support, Old Tile is definitely going to keep its UFO status. So, thank you!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

New Toy

I finally caved and got a swift from Jo-Ann's using their 50% off coupon online. No way I am going to spend 5 hours trying to wind the Alpaca Clouds again ... and now I don't have to. I was not too excited about gettting this new toy because it takes up space in my humble apartment. I mean not excited ... until this:


2 skeins of Alpaca Clouds, 1 4-oz sock yarn from Inspirations Yarn and 5 skeins of Cash Iroha ... all done within half an hour! Sweet! I feel I break even already.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I had a dream!

A dream that was knitting-related in content! I am not a person who dreams a lot ... or who remembers her dreams after waking up. But this particular one was so impressive on me that I kept replaying it in my mind ever since Sunday morning ... and of course I have to share it with you.

So, Husband was very eager to get to the shop (!) which was having a sale, a cut-throat bleeding sale (!!). After some fussing around, we finally got to the shop and he seemed to know his way very well (!!!) as he turned some corners and got to where he wanted within seconds. It was a section for knitting books (!!!!) and much of the shelves were empty already. He was very upset because the one book he wanted to buy was of course out of stock ... and it was Sensational Knitted Socks (!!!!!).

That was it. The exclamation marks? They mark the startling differences between Husband in real life and Husband in the dream. Did you ever have weird dreams like this?

With the closing of Socktoberfest, I started on another knit-along, nona's Peaceful Palms:


My brother (in Hong Kong) has to work night-shifts when it can be quite cold. So, I think it would be a good idea to knit him a pair of gloves like Broad Street Mittens. I first planned to use some solid-coloured sock yarns from my stash but then found them too thin. Finally, the 2 skeins of Sock Landscape from KnitPicks are of the right size, only that they are 100% pure merino which have to be handwashed. But I decided to use them anyway as they are super soft. This is the progress I've made so far:


The red line there indicates where my hand is inside the glove. My gauge is the same as specified in the pattern ... so I have to comfort myself that my hand is a lot smaller than Janis's ... and that my brother's hands are a lot bigger than mine. But most probably I'd start over again with fewer stitches.

nona left a comment on my last post, "I believe this scary job calls for a large bag of M&Ms. Weave in an end, eat an M&M!" This is indeed a brilliant motivating idea, thanks to which my work area now looks like this:


1. The evil Medusa
2. My Clover thread cutter and (invisible) darning needle
3. Omega Cranberry Pieces
4. Confetti Candies (leftovers from Halloween night)