Friday, June 30, 2006

Happiness is ...

when all the loose ends are clipped from the project! Yes! The Leftovers Tank is finally done ... I have to say it is not perfect, but it is done and is wearable! Here it is:
Let's first talk about what is not perfect about it (besides my chubby arms ... don't try to comfort me ... I know when I have been lazy! :)). See the V-neck? I didn't do any homework on how to make a V-neck at all but just went ahead with my instinct. It turned out the point where the V splits would be pulled on both (left and right) directions, creating a very loose space. So, I have to use a crochet hook to slip a few stitches there:
But you can obviously see that it is slanting up on the left side.

Then, I think I could have decreased a few more stitches on the armhole sides so that the shoulder parts don't look so crumbled. Another thing is about the switch of colours. I don't know what I was thinking but I decided to let the positions for the switch be randomly distributed throughout the tank ... instead of aligning them all on one side. Husband said it felt weird as the switch was very abrupt. Now that I look at it, he is right! :P

BUT ... it fits! The armholes are very close-fitting ... which is deliberate as I was afraid that the cotton knit would get stretched out with wear. So, as long as I don't throw it into the machine or hot water, the tank is going to fit well. Have you noticed that I managed to get the stripes match? My only worry was that I didn't have enough yarns of certain colours to do that. It turned out I didn't only have enough ... actually I still have a lot left in certain colours. Maybe I can make a number of coasters from them ... have to check out Cozy Crochet from the library!

I love the slipped stitch i-cord edge ... a very neat finishing. I really wanted to have the i-cord edge continue into the neckline of the back. So, I left the neck stitches on the back and the 6 edge-stitches on the front on holders:
After binding off the shoulders, I started i-cord bind off from the 3 edge-stitches on the right side across the neck and then grafted the last 3 stitches with the 3 edge-stiches on the left side. Does that make sense to you? Anyway, now I have a complete i-cord neckline:
I love this!

Details:
Pattern: My own
Yarns: Rowan Cotton Glaces leftovers from Old Tiles
Gauge and Needle: 6.5 sts and 9 rows per inch on US2
Start date: 05-07-2006
Finish Date: 06-30-2006

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I'm almost there!

Really:

In the meantime, you can go to Dorothee's blog to see the socks I knitted for her. Yeah ... she is my second sock pal (the first one is blogless). It just feels surreal to see the socks I knitted on fitted feet!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Another reason why you should swatch

First of all, thank you all so much for the birthday well wishes! I really appreciated them very much. It is a pity that birthday blog fodder can only be used once a year, despite the fact that we Chinese people all have 3 birthdays a year. Yes, you read it right, 3 birthdays per person a year! Besides the birthday on the international (Western) calendar, we have a birthday on the Chinese calendar and then the seventh day of the first month of the year is called Common Man's Birthday (Man's Day). ;)

Now, back to knitting. As much as I don't enjoy swatching, I have to admit it is indeed a good practice. Since I had reached the armhole shaping in the Leftovers Tank, it was time to get serious with how to proceed. I already figured out the number of stitches in the shaping, what was left to do was the double knit slipped stitch edge (from Annie Modesitt's Confessions of a Knitting Heretic).

I did a little swatching following the instructions in the book:
Just one look and you can obviously see something was wrong ... the resulting edge was not smooth at all! So, I checked the blogs of people who had used this method before and discovered an error (all the slipped stitches should be done with the yarn in front, not just those on Row 1). Following the instructions on Colleen's blog, I got something much more decent:
Since I would like to use the orange colour for the edge to get a neater finish for the whole tank, I practised a bit more using another colour (white in the photo) for the centre stitches before working on the tank:
I just need to remember not to pull the yarn too tightly on the edge, otherwise, there may be a bit of puckering. But on the whole, I am happy with how it looks:
Right now, I am not sure if I can match the stripes on the front with those on the back ... I am not even sure if I can do that with the two sides of the V-neck! That's not really important, right? (Just tell me it's not, okay? hahaha ... ) But I do know one thing ... I am just really happy starting to see the end of this project! :D

Thursday, June 22, 2006

42 is a magic number

Just because I happen to be 42 years old today! :D Yeah, it's my birthday again. Recieved my father's birthday card to me yesterday in which he asked me how it felt one year closer to becoming a senior citizen ... HAHAHA ... he always has such sense of humour! Any special feelings? Except that I am feeling very comfortable with myself being in the 40s, nothing special. Actually, I had always longed to become old when I was young. Teens and the 20s were definitely not the prime time of my life ... I looked dorky, geeky and awkward ... felt the exact same way about myself. Husband always says I am the type who gets to look better with age. Wanna see my dorky look?


I don't remember how old I was in this,

but most probably before my graduation
from the university.
I had a really good laugh
when I received this some time ago,
sent to me from my parents in Hong Kong.



Me at my university graduation
ceremony. The age of the big glasses!
Husband actually asked me
who this was when
he saw this photo ... hahaha ...


Punting in Cambridge, England
where I took a class in English teaching ...
though I was already
working then, I still looked dorky!


This was me in my early 30s (I think!),
when I was travelling in Taipei, Taiwan.
The hair was suffering from
a previous tight curl perm ...
and I was not really used to
having long hair
(yeah, this length was LONG to me then!)

But talking about my favourite picture of myself, here it is:

Weren't I just darn cute as an one-year-old baby?

I will have updates on knitting in the coming post.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Yet another weekend without a stitch

The heat was on! And it was just too warm staying inside the apartment ... so on Saturday we ventured out to meet with other members of Husband's car club, have a group drive through the mountains towards Danville in San Ramon Valley, have a wine tasting (which soon turned into wine drinking ... hahaha ...) in the beautiful Elliston Vineyards, enjoy some good BBQ food. Back home, I think both of us suffered mild dehydration. After drinking lots of water and some King Arthur pizzas, we went to bed early.

Sunday was not stay-home time either. We left early and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge (again!) ... then visited Olema, Point Reyes National Seashore (but we didn't visit the Lighthouse since we were poorly equipped for the severe weather!) and Point Reyes Station (where you can find the Old Western Saloon ... recently visited by the British Royalties). The day was fun-filled with various landscapes, vegetation, animals and pioneering atomspheres of old historic small towns. But the down side was I suffered another mild dehydration and had quite a severe headache when I was back home!

Though without actual knitting, I do have some knitting news. A few weeks ago, I visited AmiAmi again and found that their summer yarn sample book was available. I sent an email requesting one. The sample book arrived quite promptly. Besides their excellent customer service, I was also very impressed by the qualities of some of their yarns:
I especially like the silk and silk blends in the samples. So, last week, I used my yarn free day of June to purchase the silvery grey Silk Linen for a lace stole. It is not really lace weight, more of a fingering one. I am now eagerly waiting for the yarns to arrive! ;)

Now look at these:
These little swatch cards were made by Major Knitter with some sock yarn leftovers I donated in March. Part of the proceeds from these cards will go to a charity. You can follow the link to read more about them. I think they are incredibly cute!

Finally, my second sock pal received her socks ... and she told me they fitted perfectly. I think she likes them! ;)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

"Agnes, did you feel it?"

That was what Husband asked when he woke me up this morning at around 5:24 a.m. The next minute, he already went out to the living room and logged on to USGS Latest Quakes page. It turned out to be a 4.7 earthquake with the center 28 miles south of us. According to the news report, since the quake was only 2 miles down the earth, the shakings were felt by quite a lot of people ... AND I SLEPT THROUGH IT without feeling a slightest thing!

On the knitting front, I've been moving along like the Slowskys*! Just managed to knit a couple of rounds on the Leftovers Tank on Tuesday night. Last night was being distracted by some apartment hunting research (and that would be another story!). Any moment soon I'll be at the armhole split. Lucky for me, Lauren at almost felted posted about her method of shaping the armholes for sleeveless shell ... that seems to be working out very well, so I'll try it. If it doesn't work for me, I would beg the help from the very kind Debi (she has the Sweater Wizard ... which I have been thinking of getting but not sure if it is really useful since I am mostly a follow-a-pattern type knitter! ;))

After much thought, I have to agree with hege (go check out the Norwegian sweater she is working on! I have that book and love all the colourworks!) that crew neckline is not necessarily the simpler way; so I'll do what I like more ... V-neck! Yay! Besides, in order to avoid knitting the armhole bands and neck band, I'll experiment with the much appraised Annie Modesitt's double knit slipped stitch edge. That's about it with my plan for this project. I hope it would be done in another 2 weeks.

Weekend is just around the corner! The forecast says the coming weekend is going to be warm and sunny ... that's enough to keep one's spirit up, people! :)

*For those of you who are not in the US, the Slowskys, featured in an internet company's tv commercials, have become quite a pair of celebrities now. They even have their own blog! Go and watch them on tv! I love them (but not the slower DSL)!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Socks and a little gift

Almost ready! The socks are still a little bit damp on the blocking towel. In the meantime, I whipped up an extra small gift for the sock pal in waiting. This is my favourite crochet (::grasp:: the dark side! :D ) pattern - simple, fast, easy and with impressive result:
I made one last year which is really long ... long enough for a very large hardcover book. A few weeks ago, I made another shorter one for paperback novels. This one I made for the sock pal is good enough for sock pattern books like Knitting Vintage Socks and Knitting On the Road. I chose the red beads to go with the socks:


Details:
Pattern and Modifications: John's Anniversox (I couldn't find the name of the person putting up this pattern)
Since my gauge is smaller than that of the pattern, I needed to cast on more stitches (76 sts) to accomodate for the recipient's size. Instead of the twist stitch cable, I used the mock wave cable from B. Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns (p.115) on the foot.

Yarns: KnitPicks Sock Garden (2 skeins) Col: 23468 Star Gazer Lily
KnitPicks has slimlined their sock yarn lines and many colourways of Sock Garden, Sock Landscape and Sock Memory have been discontinued. I got a bunch of these colourways when they were still available ... but have yet to knit them. I really like Sock Garden ... very soft and pleasant to work with, though tends to be a bit splitty. Considering the good price, I think the quality is good. The colourway I chose is a very delightful one ... it kept me in a cheerful mood while working on the socks!

Gauge and Needles: 10 sts per inch using US1.5

Start Date: 06-07-2006
Finish Date: 06-12-2006

Now that the socks are done, my knitting would return to the Leftovers Tank. I am still undecided about the neckline - a choice between crew neck or V-neck. It seems crew neck would be simpler ... but I think a shallow V-neck would be cute.

A quick recap of the past weekend: I didn't do any KIP on Saturday! (Oops!) Instead, Husband and I went to a gathering of car enthusiasts and we met:
1. a bunch of rich people (definition of 'rich people' - those who drove there in a Ferrari or Limborghini)
2. a small bunch of snobbish rich people (definition of 'snobbish rich people' - those who were unhappy that morning because there were too many Porsche and Lotus in the gathering; they prefer it to be purely Ferrari and Limborghini ... Duh!)
3. a couple of rich good-looking-not-like-real-but-from-movies people. Then I realized I really don't regard those good-looking people in movies as real flesh and blood ... my fault! LOL!
That was an interesting morning!

Friday, June 09, 2006

I am knitting as fast as I can!

Because this is an urgent case. Using the info Sock Mom passed on to me, I chose the yarns and pattern which I thought my new pal would like ... and got started immediately. Here I am ... my progress:
Not too bad, I think. I know that if I want to knit fast, I cannot knit some very complicated pattern nor stocking stitch plain socks. So, John's Anniversox suits the occasion. Wanna see a close up of the little XOXO braid?
The colour is crappy without the flash ... but that way the pattern can be seen more clearly.

Okay, off to work on it now. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! :)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Apology

It was brought to my attention this morning that Blogger is having problems allowing people to leave comments. For this, I have to apologize to you on behalf of Blogger ... as well as for my still sticking with them. But if you want to leave comments, you can still do so by clicking on the Haloscan link. Thanks for visiting ... and have a nice day (weekend is close!).

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Driven by a dream

Tuesday morning, I woke up with the scenes of a dream still vivid in my mind, which is a very rare thing to me. In the dream, I saw a very cute young girl wearing a sleeveless tank very familiar in sight. I looked more closely ... and found that it was my Leftovers Tank ... okay, what my Leftovers Tank was supposed to look like when I finally finish it. I think I asked her about it in the dream. And she told me something like she found it half-finished sometime somewhere ... and she took it and obviously finished it! I remember there was an ambiance of sadness in the dream ... not me ... but rather the project felt abandoned by me ... though it eventually went into better hands. When I woke up, I still felt that vague sadness.

I don't like it. So, yesterday, I worked solely on the Leftovers Tank. I was wishing I could get to the armholes:
I was able to get an extra inch done more than what you can see in this picture. Now would be be the time to figure out how to shape the armholes.

Yet, there would be distraction from this project ... but for a good cause. When I was waiting for my Sockapaloooza socks, I decided I would sign up as sock saviour. I was lucky and got a pair of beautiful and well-made socks ... but all who took part in the fun should be able to do so. This morning, I got an assignment from Sock Mom. Since my new sock pal has been waiting for her socks for more than a month already, I think I would devote all my time to get her socks done ASAP. I am now done with the cuff of the first sock ... and I'll show you pictures when I get more done.

The last thing I'd like to show you:
Those of you who already have a PDA with GPS, don't tell me this wasn't the first thing you try! LOL!

Monday, June 05, 2006

The progress is ... well, pathetic!

The home improvement projects are on the whole finished, though there are still some loose ends to take care of. So, this week I should have more time for knitting. But I am afraid that summer really is not a very productive season ... the weather is so good that you just want to go out and do something else! This weekend, we played tourists and went to the Golden Gate Bridge. This may sound ridiculous to a lot of people - this was actually my first time being there!
See the fog? Sometimes I do wish I live in an area nearer to the coast, like San Francisco or Half Moon Bay, as then I would be able to knit with wool all year round! Talking about knitting with wool, during the weekend, I did try to knit a bit on the sock ... but boy did I sweat like a pig! Mind you, it is only sock yarn! That's why progress has been pathetic:
One sock was done and I immediately started the cuff for the other. I enjoy knitting the linen stitch pattern a lot ... besides, the slipped stitches of the pattern really bring out the beauty of the colourway. I just hope that I would be able to get past the stocking stitch of the foot faster this time!

For Birch, what you see in the photo was my second attempt ... stocking stitch version. During the first try, I found that besides the garter stitch background, I also didn't like the way the colours striped. So, this time, I am knitting with 2 balls ... it seems to work better this way. I deliberately didn't work too much on Birch since I know I would not be able to put it down. I just did one and a half pattern repeats to get to see the pattern. Birch would be the bait to get me work more conscientiously on the Leftover Tank ... which should be an easy and fast knit but somehow I've been procrastinating.

Oh yes, I have also been busy trying to get to know this new toy (not the bridge!):
Garmin iQue3600 ... and I have to tell you that I love this PDA. The GPS of this works so much better than our previous one (HP iPAQ ... Husband vowed NEVER to buy any of their products EVER!). He even managed to get it at almost half price on the internet (I love sweet deal!). And ... the OS is Palm instead of Windows. This means I can try out the KnitAble software. Any of you have used / are using the program? I'd love to hear your opinion.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Getting organized

Some of you were curious about the identity of the sock yarn I showed you last time. Yes, it is the second kit from the Rocking Sock Club. The colourway is called Fairgrounds and the pattern "Rock and Weave". The cuff is knitted separately in linen stitch. What I showed you last time were the 2 sides of the stitch pattern - the purl side on the left and the right side on the right. The right side actually looks similar to a woven fabric and the photo model of the sock in the pattern used this side for the cuff. However, I, as with many of you, prefer the purl side a little bit more.

There hasn't been too much knitting going on this week. To make a not-too-complicated story even simpler, this is why.
:O Books were scattered everywhere in this house because we didn't have bookshelves.
:X In a previous attempt to get bookshelves in IKEA, we decided that was a shop we wouldn't go again because of the hassle getting in and out of the parking lot. But most importantly, we forgot to get the measurements.
:D I discovered some really practical and cheap bookshelves in Target, which is a lot parking friendly.

So I spent all the afternoons building shelves and organizing the books. See?

On the left is Husband's collection of Gaston, Spirou et Fantasio, Tin Tin, Asterix and many many more. On the right is my collection of knitting books. Neat! I can even find a place for these cuties:
I brought them with me from Hong Kong. There are magnets on their hands and feet ... I fell in love with them when they first came out in Hong Kong many many years ago but I think I missed one ... Bert.

The problem with organizing the home is that once you get one spot done, you like it so much that you'd like to do makeover to ALL the sore spots. This is what eats up my time for knitting. While organizing the books, I discovered a reading notebook I kept in the past:
The notebook is one with illustrations by one of my most favourite illustrators - Jimmy. Inside, I have written down passages from books I read that I found interesting, touching or inspiring. This is the last entry:

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."

It is from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran, the chapter "On Joy and Sorrow". I do think I should pick up this practice again.