Friday, April 28, 2006

Déjà vu?

The magic of life, at least to the optimistic, is the promise of tomorrow, as best expressed by Scarlett O'Hara, "... tomorrow is another day" ... when we can get a second shot to make it better than today. So, what would it be if tomorrow was not another day, but just a repeat of the same day? I think even the happiest day in our lives would become weary and tiresome if we have to live through it, say, more than 5 times, not to mention if it was the worst. I know this is not any new idea. If you haven't watched Groundhog Day, check your local movie channels and give it a try ... it's good, I like it.

It's Friday again. Last Friday, I posted this. Today, this:
Yeah, it is a different photo. I have one side of the stole left for the edging ... 30 repeats. I learned my lesson and have been extremely careful ever since ... checking for dropped stitches every 10 minutes! I don't think I'll have the heart to do it a third time ... afterall, I am just a normal human being!

So, I hope the déjà vu ends here.

And a thousand 'thank you's to all of you. It's true that your consolations didn't help with my knitting (which is supposed to be done by myself, no?), but they certainly gave my spirit a great boost. For the last few days, I haven't knitted anything else but this, hoping to bring you the finished stole ASAP. :)

Jason asked why I chose Alpaca Cloud. I read about other knitters using this yarn and it seems there has been very little complaint. Besides, the price is extremely good. 3 hanks will be enough for this stole even if you follow the pattern to the fullest (I skipped one central panel repeat) and that came to $12. Now I also know that this yarn can stand quite some frogging! :D Not bad at all.

Now I am off to continue with the remaining 30 repeats. Wish everyone happy and satisfying knitting during the weekend.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Disaster

Monday 10:30 p.m. - I finished the last row of the edging and was ready to do the final grafting:
when I suddenly noticed something alarmingly unusual ... right at the position of the white split stitch marker in the above picture. What could that be? Close up:
A DROPPED STITCH HANGING LOOSE! When did that happen? Why didn't I notice it before? No no no ... all these were not important anymore! With a composure that frightened myself, I calmly examined the gaping hole and the dropped stitch, trying to figure out if I could fix it right there and then. Maybe it was really late and I was really tired, after 10 minutes' effort, I decided that ripping was the only way. Ripping? All those edging? All 72 pattern repeats? Even Husband asked if there was another way to solve the problem, so you can imagine how distressing the thought could be to a knitter! But I can tell you that it was not really that bad after all. Allowing myself no time for self-pity, I immediately took out the ball winder and started ripping. Frogging the Alpaca Cloud was as difficult as Kidsilk Haze because the small hairs just embraced each other extremely tight.

This morning, stitch by stitch I ripped back to the dropped stitch, then knitted back the frogged rows. Now I am back with the edging. I still don't know how and when I dropped that stitch. But I have closely examined the two sides and made sure no such thing would happened again this time.

So please excuse me for not having the mood to read through my Bloglines subscriptions these few days. I am still hoping I can finish the stole in April.

Friday, April 21, 2006

WORKING.VERY.HARD.TO.FINISH

... therefore not much time to post. The edging of the Sampler Stole seems to be as long as the Great Wall of China! It looks like this at this moment:
Lesson learned from the knitting of the edging: MATH IS GOOD FOR YOU!

Have you seen this on the blogsville?
I came across this on glittyknittykitty. Cool, huh? There are more pictures of it here.

Hopefully, Sampler Stole would be finished over the weekend ... before that, Happy Knitting everyone!

Edited to add: My April Buy Yarn Day was utilized on 17th for a kpixie backorder. :)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Are you ready for the Next Big One?

One hundred years ago today, the San Francisco Bay Area experienced a literally earth-shaking experience. This Big One made history. The destruction was devastating and wide-spread. But the subsequent fires in the city of San Francisco that almost destroyed the complete city are especially notorious.

I have had very little experience with earthquakes. For the past 5 years I've been living here, there were only twice, to be exact only once, when I really felt a shake. For the first time, I only learned about the occurrance when I got onto my car and turned on the radio. Then Husband called me on my cellphone after he felt it in his office ... and I told him I didn't feel a thing inside Costco. BTW, Costco may be the last place you'd want to be in when there is a quake ... think about how high they stack their merchandise!

Then for the second time, we were both at home and it lasted maybe about 3 seconds. My memory of the shake itself is now really vague. But I just need to look at one of the shelves in our living room to reassure myself that it did happen.

So, there have been a lot of talks about preparing for the Next Big One. I started building up supplies for emergency a few years back (it's really hard to get everything ready in one go!). I remember after Katrina, there was this discussion in KR forum about donating knitting supplies to knitters affected by the hurricane. Someone said that knitting would be the last thing you need in such situation. I tended to agree at the time.

However, now I think differently. Of course, there would be lots of things to attend to and worry about when we experience a disastrous situation. But imagine there is a moment when all I can do is just wait (for whatever it is) ... wouldn't it be mind-soothing and psyche-calming if I can do some knitting? Besides supplies for physical existence, supplies for mental sanity are also important. So, I put together this kit to be put into the emergency supplies tube:
Here, I have everything I would need to knit 2 pairs of socks - yarns, needles, yarn cutter and darning needles - all put inside a quite sturdy plastic bag (the Hefty School Bag is my most favourite project bag). I chose a cheerful colourway for myself and one of Husband's favourite colours for him.

Of course, I hope I wouldn't need to use this kit.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Another heartwarming story

Click on the photo and you can read about these little creatures and the very kind-hearted women who knit for them!

On another note, if you would like to knit some dishcloths, there are tons of free patterns on the web, including the Mason-Dixon Washcloth I showed you in my last post. The new dishcloths have made a not-much-loved chore into a more pleasant one. So, over the weekend, I made another one:
Recognize this? Reverse-bloom Flower Washcloth from Weekend Knitting. I am using the same cotton yarn as the Mason-Dixon Washcloth ... and I still have some leftover! This must have been a giant ball of cotton yarn! :D

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Heartbreakingly cute!

Okay, I confess ... the phrase is from the book. But lookie here:

I read about this on Cute Overload, immediately hopped over to Erika's blog and read the story ... blown me away! And I thought I should share this with you. If you click on the picture, you'll be able to read it too. You can even get the pattern if you want to!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Simplicity is Beauty

So the logical thing to happen should be to keep the momentum for the Sampler Stole and continue knitting the edging. But life doesn't always go the path of the logical. I received this book early this week and have been itching to start something ... something that I fell in love with when browsing the book in Borders. The best part? I can dig into my stash for the yarns!

There are a lot of lovely projects in this book, but if you are big on wearables, you may have to look somewhere else. The majority of the patterns are practical things for the home ... blankets, rugs, curtain, dishcloths. DISHCLOTHS! That is what I fell in love with ... something so simple and yet so lovely:
This is the photo of the dishcloth in its new glory ... the poor thing is being called to duty almost immediately after the photo shot! :)

Details:
Pattern and Modification: Ballband Dishcloth as reprinted in Mason-Dixon Knitting
The book said that this is a classic pattern printed on the ballbands of Peaches & Cream cotton yarns. The stitches are very simple but what you'll get is something that looks sophisticated and lovely ... especially to the non-knitters' eyes! I just added an i-cord loop for ease of hanging.

Yarn: Sugar 'n Cream 100% cotton in Light Blue and Light Yellow
It would be a better idea to get colours like those in the book. Imagine you have to wipe out tomato juice on the counter top? White and light yellow just won't stand new for too long.

Gauge and Needle: US7 ... gauge? I didn't really measure the gauge ... it's just dishcloth afterall ... bigger or smaller in size doesn't really matter, I guess.

Start date: 04-13-2006
Finish date: 04-13-2006

Since it only took a couple of hours to finish, I made another one after dinner:

Details:
Pattern and Modification: Mason-Dixon Washcloth designed by Brooks Jones from Mason-Dixon Knitting
This is a fun knit with lots of things to keep your attention - bobbles, eyelets, decreasing ... and knitting in the round! And I did knit this piece while watching TV, so at the end I did shout out, "Day-um, I'm good!" (Turn to page 55 and you'll know what I meant!) I used the US7 DPNs for the first time ... and boy they felt like chopsticks!

Yarn: I'm not sure if it was Lion Cotton or Sugar 'n Cream that I used since the ballband was long lost. But I like the colourway. Actually, it was so beautiful that when I showed it to Husband, he said it shouldn't be used! :D

Gauge and Needle: US7 and unknown gauge

Start date: 04-13-2006
Finish date: 04-13-2006

Conclusion: I LOVE THIS BOOK!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

I had a lightbulb above my head!

It must be all the good karma you all sent my way, I'm sure! So yesterday I read through the comments you left here ... and had the ideas brewing inside my head ... then all of a sudden, I got it! Yes, there are clear indications where to join the edging stitch with the stole stitches in the chart which I am aware of all the time. And yes, I have been reading the instructions with a preconception in my head. I read "Beginning by joining the edging to the open sts of the 2nd border, work starting rows a-d, then work rows 1-20 six times ... " as asking me to join the provisional cast-on row to the 2nd border BEFORE I start knitting row a. But anyway, after some re-configuration of my brain, I understand what I need to do now. This is proof:
I am now about to turn the corner and move on to one longer side of the stole. Since I have shortened the stole by omitting one central panel repeat, I may have to manipulate a bit to accommodate the edging repeat for the corners. Don't know how to do that yet ... but if I can't figure it out, I think I'll just write about it here and beg for your good karma again! :D Thank you so much! :D

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I have good news ... and a problem!

The good news is that I finished the second border! I did several rounds of bunny happy dance around the apartment on Monday when I finished. :D I encountered all kinds of problems when working on the first border, and ripping back several rows was a frequent happening. However, things went so smoothly in the second border that I found it a bit surreal! I didn't even have to rip one whole row!

Now, the problem. First of all, I haven't done any lace shawl edging before. Then, reading through the instructions, I thought I wanted to work a knitted-on shaped edging. These are the instructions: "With dpn, invisibly cast on 18 sts. Beginning by joining the edging to the open sts of the 2nd border, work starting rows a-d, then work rows 1-20 six times ... " I have read this several times and still can't figure out how to join the edging to the open sts. If I still can't figure this out, maybe I should work on a sewn-on edging then. :( I was hoping the lace series on Eunny's blog may shed some light on this ... but it seems that she has been quite busy lately. I just post the problem on the KAL blog but maybe those experienced lace knitters among you are able to show me the way too.

Sorry that there is no photo for this post ... but an unblocked lace project is not too difficult to envision. I am really eager to have this stole finished, so any help is greatly appreciated ... and I thank you all in advance!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Pooling or Striping?

So, they devoted the whole first discussion of the sock club to pooling, then I guess this is a big deal. I think most knitters would be happy if the knitting all comes out in the way it did in the heels and toes:
Their main suggestion to avoid pooling is to alternate the knitting from both ends of the skein (feathering). Well well well, this is just too troublesome for me. I am not sure if what happened is pooling or striping, but my socks made me think of the stripes on tigers or tabby cats ... not too bad then! ;) But really, I prefer the thinner stripes! I would really be a lot happier if my stripes could be like this (you have to stroll down a bit to see the lovely stripes).

Details:
Pattern and Modification: Cedar Creek Socks designed by Kaci Kyler Hays for Rockin' Sock Club of BMFA
I love it when the designers talk a little about the inspirations for their creations. The inspiration for this design was the lovely creek and the cedar trees and rainforest jasper rocks along the road to Blue Moon Fiber Arts in Oregon. I've never been there and have very little first hand knowledge of the trees and rocks, but Google image search always helps! ;) (I had problems linking to the search results, so you would have to do the search yourself!)
I read from the unofficial blog of the sock club that some people found the socks produced by the pattern to be unstretchy ... but I found the opposite true to me. I have yet to decide whether it was because the yarn was bouncy or the pattern. I just did the usual change to short row heels, otherwise, I followed the pattern, including the picot edge which I found to be cute and beautiful, though a bit more trouble to make especially for the first time.

Yarn: Socks That Rock (Light Weight) by Blue Moon Fiber Arts Col: Rainforest Jasper (100% Superwash Merino)
I intended to buy some of this widely raved sock yarn in Stitches West. However, all the light weight yarns were raided long before I arrived and I didn't want to have the heavier weight. So, I was really excited to receive the first sock club kit. Definitely lovely yarn and I am sure you must have read quite a lot about it already. I like the lovely sheen of the yarn ... and wonder how they did that! Another feature that I like is the bouncy nature of the yarn. For someone who finds Lion Brand Magic Stripes soft enough, STR is of course soft as butter. Yet, there is something not too satisfactory to me ... I expected the light weight to be really fingering weight, like Lorna's Lace Shepherd Sock, but the light weight STR is much thicker to me.

Gauge and Needle: 8.5sts per inch with US1
Start date: 03-26-2006
Finish date: 04-08-2006

Friday, April 07, 2006

MIKBA

How is everybody? I have been MIKBA (Missing In Knitting & Blogging Action) this week. The rain earlier of the week was not only distrubing to me but also to our internet connection. I couldn't read too many during the time when it was working alright, so there would be a lot of catching up to do.

For the last two days, the weather has been beautiful. You just imagine how much you miss the blue sky after almost 30 straight days of rain! This was great as I had a good friend visiting. She was among the first group of friends I made in my first job. We did a lot of updating, chatting and laughing ... wonderful time!

6 days into the Yarn Focus Challenge already! It hasn't been very difficult with the internet connection not working too well ... online window shopping always poses great temptation!

Hopefully, I'll have FO to show you soon as the second Cedar Creek sock is close to the toe already. For the time being, I wish everyone a wonderful weekend with goregous weather. :)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Rainy Day Blues

This morning when I was woken up by the alarm clock, I heard the sound of heavy rain. Though the rain was not exactly surprising, some thoughts raced through my mind. I was thinking if the rain were this heavy all thorough the night, flooding would not be impossible! Flood! My next thought was that I had to get some securely flood-proof plastic boxes (are there such boxes?) to store my yarns!

There is no flood here yet. But some levees are beginning to feel the pressure of the continuous rain. Actually, two privately-owned ones near Sacramento broke this morning. Though the drainage system of the city where I live has been very effective, if the river here overflows ... or if there is any major levee break, flood is still a possibility. I didn't get the boxes immediately this afternoon ... but I would do that soon.

Luckily, there is significant stole progress to alleviate the rainy day blues. I finished the 162 rows of the first border! Are you ready for some lace loveliness?

The patterns have a very strong Japanese style ... which is unexpected to me. But I am loving this stole so far. What I need to do now is to repeat these 162 rows once on the other end of the stole. I seldom have second sock syndrome, so I don't expect I'd have second border syndrome either! :)

I was very glad that I joined Elspeth's WIP It Out at the end of March because it refreshes my awareness of my various projects in progress. I am actually starting to choose the next afghan square to knit. So, I really need to thank Elspeth for this brilliant idea. But look:
Elspeth chose one of her frogged WIPs (the blue Koigu balls) as reward and I won (thanks to her 6-year-old). Together with the frogged Koigu she also sent me a sock pattern, 2 new sock yarns, stitch markers, chocolate (yummy!) and a lovely kitty card!!!! The sky is grey outside, but I definitely feel sunshine inside my apartment! Thank you very much, Elspeth!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

(No stash to flash) Random Saturday

I had a lot of fun seeing all the Flash Your Stash posts today ... and start to feel a lot better about my stash. Perhaps I don't really need to join the Yarn Focus Challenge at all! But no, I'm still in. Actually I have put up the ticker on the sidebar.

I think in terms of creativity, sense of humour and the ability to win knitters' hearts, Wendy of Knit and Tonic should be the champion of Flash Your Stash this year. Go and have a look at her and her stash.

Not much knitting was done today as I spent most of the time working on my blog. As you can see, the header and the background are new. (How do you like them? :)) I have also put the archives into a drop down menu so that the sidebar can be neater. Oh yes, now you can search my blog using 3 search engines. You can find them under the Archives menu. There are still work to be done to update my FO gallery ... but I'll get to that later.

I found a cute javascript that enable me to use some simple Emoticons withou having to upload the images. Pretty cool, B) huh?