Monday, July 31, 2006

I learned this from Claudia

... that if you want to have an early idea of how a cardigan would fit, knit the back, one front and one sleeve first. I know from my mother that this is also a tailor shop practice. If you order a custom-made suit, you would need to go back to the shop to try on a basted version of your suit. Any possible problems or unfit parts would be fixed then.
It seems everything is okay. :D

Since there is no "the-fitting-of-the-cardigan-sucks" blog fodder, I am going to show you something else that sucks. Remember my first handspun yarns? I finally got to set the twist during the weekend ... and really learned a lot by examining them. First, look:
This ugly swatch was knitted with 4mm needles. Obviously I had some severely over-twisted sections ... especially the thinner ones. Then, needless to say, the thickness is highly irregular. Yesterday, I spun a bit more using the hand-dyed merino I got from Hello Yarn when I ordered my spindle kit:
This time, I paid special attention to the amount of fibre I drafted for twisting, aiming at a more regular thickness throughout. Besides, I learned to use my fingers to feel along the twisted yarn to see if the twists were enough or too much. I think I definitely improved a bit ... but it is really hard to get the regularity of commercially spun yarns by using a spindle ... or is it possible at all?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pilgrimage

So it seems that everyone who's been to San Francisco has visited Artfibers ... except me! So during the weekend when Husband told me he was going to attend a conference in San Francisco yesterday, I decided to tag along and pay a visit to this famous store.

Damn! I should have gone earlier!

They offer yarntasting ... you can try knitting up the yarn that you like right there. Since I didn't have too much time to spare, I went almost straight to my target ... and without much ado, I took home these:
3 spools of Tsuki (40% silk, 60% superkid mohair) in a lovely greenish colour. This stuff is good ... if you love Rowan KSH, this stuff is as good as KSH. If I hadn't started the mohair wrap cardigan already, I would use this for the project. Now I may use them to make the KSH sweater Aimee from Vintage Style.

Damn! I should have gone earlier!

I also spotted another yarn that I like ... Hana. I am thinking if I can use it for this:
Usually, shrug patterns don't work on me ... but this one ... ever since I saw it on the kpixie newsletter, I couldn't push it away from my mind.

Damn! I should have gone earlier!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Back home

Hello all! I finally have the time and means to post! We spent the last two nights in the hotel and thus were finally able to get some good sleep. This was especially important for Husband since he had to go back to work yesterday. The forecast said that it was beginning to cool off, so we checked out this morning. But the temperature (according to the car thermometer) was still 100F at 3:30 p.m. Now I seriously look forward to weekend ... not just because it's weekend, but that it would be significantly cooler! Yet, I consider myself amongst the lucky lot ... not just because I could enjoy some coolness in the hotel, but also our home didn't suffer an outage.

It was just interesting that while I had dreaded the autocross on Saturday all along, it turned out to be a real blessing. It took place in a coastal city, so even with the record-breaking temperature, we were blessed with fresh see breezes the whole day. It was not until we drove back to the inland valley late afternoon that we realized the heat wave was so serious. On Saturday night, the temperature didn't cool down to the 80s until midnight!

Basically, I don't have much to show you - things started are not yet finished ... and I didn't really get to knit until last night. But I'd like to know what you think about this:
Now I know those spinners among you would be able to spot the trace of an amateur here. Yes, this is my first practice of handspun yarns using a top whorl spindle. I was just playing around with the practice batch in the Hello Yarn kit. It took me quite a while to know what I was doing ... but the library copy of Spin It has been very helpful. This yarn is still wound on the spindle and I haven't done the washing and drying processes yet. Since there is not much, I don't think I need a niddy noddy yet. Besides, I am not sure if I would like spinning that much.

Besides Spin It, I also checked out this book from the library:
The other day Husband saw it and said, "Don't tell me this is going to appear in our apartment soon!" You should all see the expression on his face! :D Being the good wife, of course I immediately assured him that no, I am not going to get a spinning wheel. And I mean it. :)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Heat Wave

It's not just an ordinary heat wave ... it's a killer! The temperature reached 115F this afternoon in Silicon Valley. We spent 2.5 hours in an air-conditioned movie theatre watching Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (it was not too bad actually!) ... and the car thermometer read 115F when we came out! So, all knitting activities had to be suspended! Actually, we are checking into a hotel room tonight. I'm not sure if we would have internet connection there, so just have a short post before we leave.

How was your weekend? Did you stay cool?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Shell Tank

The heat wave continues ... and will be so well into next week. I did spend 2 afternoons in the gym and went back to the library once without any parking lot incident. Right now I am just worried about the autocross on the coming Saturday with this intense heat ...

Anyway, I have FO to show - Shell Tank. You can read about my comments on this pattern later. But first, if you have a copy of Knitting Nature, just a heads up ... there is an errata page on the KAL blog. Make sure you check for the patterns you intend to make. I knew about it after finishing ... but luckily those are minor mistakes with Shell Tank. However, there are also some mistakes with its cable chart ... but again, you would be able to spot them easily. Just wondering ... why didn't they do a better job at editing? I mean, if they get a test knitter for each pattern, I'm quite sure most of the mistakes would then be spotted. What happened now is that the readers themselves do the test knitting! This just makes me appreciate a lot more designs that carry little or no mistake at all.


Details:
Pattern: Shell Tank designed by Norah Gaughan from Knitting Nature
I knitted the small size with no modification at all due to the special construction of the various pieces. At first I was afraid it would be too short ... but it turned out to be acceptable. This has been a fun knit without too much stress. I found that the front neckline of mine seems to be lower than the one from the book ... this may be the result of a difference in row gauges. Then I discovered that if I pulled the tank towards the back a bit, it would just be the same.
Besides the interesting structure, I also love Gaughan's use of reverse stocking stitch for the neckband and armhole bands. It is actually very cleverly used and blends well with the overall pattern. I wore this today and love it. The pattern combined with the colour makes me feel young! ;) One word of caution if you want to make this. If you want a close-fitting, body-flattering wear, choose something else. It's obvious, no?
I would love to knit another of the patterns from the book ... just don't know which one. Since it's summer time, I naturally checked the sleeveless tanks first. There have been some Roundabout Leaf Tank popping up here and there lately. However, every time I saw the tank, I couldn't help having images of Egyptian mummies in my mind! :D I think I need to get over this before I can pick up that pattern.

Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease Col: 156 Mint 3 balls with extra for one armhole band
I feel I have to make this announcement again: I LOVE COTTON EASE! And Mint is the most beautiful colour of the line, I think. The Leftovers Tank is smaller in measurements, but this Shell Tank is a lot lighter on the body and thus is very comfortable to wear. Really, I love some good use of acrylic!
Yes, I know Cotton Ease is long discontinued. But don't be sad because there are some other similar yarns. Nothing would really be the end of the world!

Gauge and Needles: 21sts to 4" using US5 (Denise Interchange)

Start Date: 07-08-2006
Finish Date: 07-19-2006

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Parking Lot Embarrassment

With this close-to-3-digit temperature sans air conditioning, it is really difficult to stay in the apartment from 3 to 6 in the afternoon. The best place to spend the time is the library. I am sure lots of other people in the same situation think in the same way ... at least for yesterday. This was why it was so hard to find a parking spot there. Finally I spotted one ... one that under normal circumstances I would not take because I really suck at maneuvering a car (the 2 accidents I have had all happened in parking lot!). Somehow I got into the spot ... but a tiny voice inside told me that I would be in trouble later. It was right. I couldn't get the car out of the spot even after adding scratches to the rear end on the driver's side by touching the concrete pillar right next. Luckily, a good samaritan saw my embarrassing state ... and helped guide me out!

Husband said I should feel happy because I didn't add scratches to other people's cars. But he agreed that I sucked ... and maybe we should find a large empty parking lot to practise my skills. Well, that would be later. But last night I just couldn't get over the whole incident so quickly ... and so I didn't post even though I made some knitting progress.

If I were a superstitious person, I would consider this as a premonition:
It happened yesterday morning when I was knitting the last ribbing of the Shell Tank. This is also the first confirmed needle casualty here. Other unconfirmed ones are mostly missing needles tucked somewhere inside the apartment. Is it true that the Denise people would replace it for me?

The Shell Tank. All pieces are now done:

There will be serious finishing going on these few days. One note about the right front piece. Though it is in plain stocking stitch, the knitting was not boring at all. Actually, because the left and right sides were increasing at the same time on DIFFERENT rates, I need to be really alert. To avoid the problem of losing track, I wrote out what should be done to the left/right sides for each row:

I have to say this helped A LOT!

And the forecast for this afternoon ... pretty much the same as yesterday. But I think I would go to the gym instead (there is no concrete pillar in the gym parking lot ... hahaha ...) ... no more library parking embarrassment!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Start-o-Mania Finale

Before I show you the final project (!) which I started last weekend, I'd like to know if you've ever gone to bed with a headache and then woken up with a headache the next day. Wednesday night just when my head touched the pillow, I started to feel a very faint headache ... not a painful one, just that you can feel it. Somehow I managed to fall asleep. Then, Thursday morning when I woke up, that headache was still there! I couldn't help but wonder if it was there all the time while I was sleeping ... even though I was unconscious of it, being asleep. Maybe it was because of this that I felt so tired during the day. Just wondering.

So, now back to the finale project of the weekend start-o-mania. It was a continuation of the mohair madness. :D The Feza Kid Mohair, as with other mohair yarns, makes a very warm wear. I was sweating when taking pictures of Birch. So, it would really be nice to have a mohair cardigan for summer nights or breezy beach trips, no? This from Rowan 39 caught my eye:
I have seen normal real people (as opposed to fashion models ... and you have to scroll down a bit to see the pictures) wearing this airy cardi and they look good in it. So I decided to go ahead with my Feza stash (don't ask me how many of this I snatched from my LYS ... I just stopped when none left! hahaha ... ):
I think the striping adds a boyish feel (like a rugby polo) and tones down the ultra femininist look of the original ... which suits me well! I pushed really hard trying to make the first front piece reach the armhole ... but I could only make about 10 cm. However, the mohair with big needles (US7 is big to me!) makes a fast knit.

And I swear ... I only realized all the start-o-mania projects were in blue on Monday morning when I started thinking of the blog post!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Start-o-Mania Part 2

If only one project was started, it wouldn't be justified to be called "mania". Today, I am going to show you the second project I started during the past weekend. I've told you before that I love Teva Durham's Loop-D-Loop because the designs are all very cool. Now there is another book that I think I love as much as I do Loop-D-Loop - Norah Gaughan's Knitting Nature.

Now I've read about a major project disaster from that book ... but there are lots of other successful stories if you visit the KAL blog. I was especially encouraged by this post since that was what I wanted to make first:
How I wish I would look as cool as her
when I wear my tank!


Due to the shape of the front cabled panel, it was really difficult to take photo of the whole thing. This is the best I could do:
What you see here are the back, the left front and the central cabled panel. I think I have knitted with lace weight, sock weight and sport weight yarns for too long ... and have forgotten how fast dk yarn would knit up. Besides, it is a crop tank. I would love to make it longer ... but that would involve some "complicated" calculations ... so I decided to stick to the cropped style. Now I just need to knit the right front and some finishing. FAST!

Right now, I only have one concern. The shoulder stitches for the back are 13 on each side. There are 2 stitches remaining on the left front and 20 stitches on the central panel. I have checked the pattern ... there would be 13 stitches remaining on the right front. I am not sure how the left front plus the central panel would fit with the back shoulder. And yes, I haven't checked the instructions for the finishing yet. I don't have the habit of thoroughly studying the whole pattern before I start.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Start-o-Mania Part 1

Hi all, it's Monday again! Geez! Time really flies like a stealth plane! During the past weekend, Husband was still in the music-making mode.* So, this meant I had quite some time for my own knitting indulgence. Actually I went a bit crazy and was in a "start-o-mania" mode!

Today, I would show you one of the projects started. Jason in his comment on Birch said, "Oh my gosh! Finished already? The Amazing Lace is still running. What are you going to do?" What a good question. With the completion of Birch, I decided to change partners! :D You see, during the past several months, I had been tempted by this:
See the lovely sheen? This is a cake of 2 0z (630 yards) of Zephyr Wool-Silk in Aegean Blue. I am usually not a yarn-petter ... but this Zephyr lace ... I just put it next to my laptop computer so that I could always pet it. So, it was just natural that I had to start something with it.

The problem was ... I just had one 630 yards ... not enough for a shawl. But I remembered a lovely scarf pattern from IK some time ago - Trellis Scarf. The pattern said the scarf would only use 400 yards of Alpaca Cloud. So, I thought I could make a wider one. I cast on 73 stitches and started. That was when I fell even deeper in love with this yarn! I love everything about it ... the colour, the softness, the ease of working with it ... everything! This is a perfect partnership of knitter, yarn and pattern ... all clicked perfectly. Just one afternoon and I got this:
What do you think? I read about some grievances concerning the k7tog. It was a bit tricky at the beginning, but following Evelyn Clark's advice of purling the 7 stitches more loosely the row before really helped a lot. I think it is worth the trouble when you see this loveliness:
Doesn't it look like a pinwheel or a daisy?

*Husband would like to thank every one of you who gave his music a try. He has been making music since he was a teenager. Music is one of his passions in life and he is very serious with it. So you can imagine his happiness when his latest song ranked 15th in the Trance subgenre chart. He said every one of you contributed to this (even though both of us have no idea how the songs were ranked!) ... so thank you very much!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Birch

Let's go back a bit to the long July 4th weekend. Husband got inspiration for a new song*, so he spent almost all the Independence Day holidays working on this song. This enabled me to finish Birch with lightning speed ... 4 days! I think if I ever need to make a really fast gift, Birch would be a good choice.

However, knitting the last 10 pattern repeats had been an excruciatingly painful experience. If you were here and looked at me at that time, you would think I was saying prayers holding knitting needles and yarn instead of the Rosary. In a way, I was indeed praying ... "I am not going to need another ball of yarn! I am not going to need another ball of yarn!" was what I was mumbling. This was how much I had left after knitting together the final last 3 stitches:
The chain in the front was the casting on row from the first attempt which was extremely difficult to untangle ... but which I was all prepared to try again if I ran out!

I didn't measure, but the blocked shawl is very big ... so it was very difficult to take photos of it whole. I decided that the striping is just a matter of getting used to ... since almost all the Birches I saw are of solid colours. Now looking at the completed shawl, I think that the striping doesn't seem to interfere too much with the eyelets:
But who knows? Maybe I would make one with a solid-coloured yarn. ;)

Now comes the obligatory model shots:

Details:
Pattern: Birch designed by Sharon Miller from Rowan 34
Almost all knitters know about this beautiful pattern. One search in Google and you'll find tons of them being made and talked about. Once you try making one yourself, you'll understand why ... Simplicity is Beauty. If you haven't made lace before but would like to try, Birch is a good way to start. Begin with a small swatch to get a hang of the pattern, then you are good to go.

Yarn: Feza Kid Mohair (80% kid mohair and 20% nylon) 3 balls Col: 203 Shades of Salmon
I bought these from my LYS and the prices were really cheap ($5 @!). The quality is similar to the Karabella Kid Mohair with which I made River. Can't you tell I am a mohair freak? :D

Gauge and Needle: I didn't check gauge but just followed the suggested needle size in the pattern - US8

Start date: 05-29-2006
Finish date: 07-04-2006

*If you like House, Progressive House or Trance music, you may like the songs made by Husband ... go check them out. Make sure you have lots of room for moving around ... as you might want to dance with them. :)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Sock and Soccer

Sock #2 when Chef's Salad (with chicken) was served (and the match was still in the first half):

Sock #2 when Team Italy scored their second goal in the last minute of extra time (heel was turned with about an inch into the foot):
I am not soccer (I used to call it football ... but you know in the US, you have to call it soccer to be understood correctly!) fan and honestly, I don't really care too much even if it was World Cup. Husband and his friend went to a pub to watch the match ... I just tagged along to eat ... and to knit! :D Yes, since I was there, I did watch the match ... and even shouted with the crowd!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy July 4th

One-third of Birch and I wish everyone a Happy July 4th tomorrow:
Birch is an enjoyable knit ... especially when you realize it gets faster and faster to finish one row! :D With 10 repeats finished, now I have 199 stitches still on the needle. The only thing I am not really happy with is the striping of the yarns ... perhaps I should only get used to this.