Monday, July 30, 2007

GAA - Nancy Bush Square

You read it right ... GAA (The Great American Afghan). It was as if I were put under an afghan spell, just a few days after finishing The Great American Aran Afghan, I started another project.

If you have ever seen photo of GAA, you'll agree with me that the colour combination of the squares is a major turn-off. I just can't understand how they came up with such horrible colours, which by themselves are perfectly alright, but put together? Argh! I chose to use Wool-Ease in Forest Green Heather as the major colour and started with squares of single colour.

The first square completed is Nancy Bush Square:This is a very simple design which gives satisfaction of symmetry and balance. Besides, Nancy Bush introduced a technique she discovered in an Estonian knitting book, which she translated as "button stitch". The result is a small nupp-like structure. Lovely.

I have also managed to finish Clue#4 of MS3:So far, I am very happy since I have been able to keep up with the weekly clues. Are you able to see any clue to the stole's theme? I still have no idea what it would be! The last row in Clue#4 is an all-across eyelet row ... I am thinking what follows would be completely different from what has been given before. Now I am just waiting for Friday to come! :D

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Petticoat Waving Lace Socks

It's a little bit frustrating, to be honest. The lace pattern is beautiful ... the colourway is so delightful and summery ... everything makes you so eager to put them on immediately the moment they are off the needles and go out. But it is 80F outside, not extremely warm ... yet wool socks would still be a bit too much! ::sigh::

Still, I am happy that they are done. Definitely not a perfect pair, though. Half way into the first leg, I discovered I mixed one US1.5 needle with the US1. Well, I didn't think it was worth ripping what had been done just because of a 0.5 difference in one needle. So, I just switched the needle and knitted on.




Details:
Pattern: Waving Lace Socks designed by Evelyn A. Clark (Favorite Socks)
Perhaps it was because of the pink and rosy yarns used in the book, this sock pattern appears to be very very feminine to me. The Petticoat colourway is very very feminine to me. So, these two should be together ... perfect match! :D

Yarn: Opal (75% Wool, 25% Polyamid) Col: Petticoat
According to Claudia, socks made from Opal yarns can last a lifetime and the colours stay new. I love this. The original Petticoat colourway seems not very easy to find now. I would keep the remaining ball for another perfect pattern.

Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo dpns US1

Cast On: 07-08-2007
Cast Off: 07-26-2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

Look! Lifeline!

The feeling of void and emptiness so very often experienced after completing an important project was quickly driven away by the arrival of Clue#4 of Mystery Stole 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Since I let Husband read the book first, I spent most of the weekend working on Clue#4.

Here you are looking at my very first lifeline since I started knitting lace. I am usually too impatient to spend time on precautions ... I love diving into the action more. But this time, Melanie took the trouble of sending Special Notice* telling us to put a lifeline, I thought I should take this business of lifeline a bit more seriously.

Just let me tell you that ... it is not easy. You see, I am quite a tight knitter ... and I am using the Denise needle-set. Threading even the very thin lace I got from ColourMart through the stitches on the Denise cable required some good eyesight and patience. But I suppose it would be worth it ... or I hope I won't need to find out how worthwhile it is. LOL!

Clue#4 is mainly one single pattern ... which is very beautiful to me:Looks like little cat paw prints ...

*I decided to switch to Special Notice after once receiving more than 15 Daily Digest a day! :)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Great American Aran Afghan

YEEEEHAAAAH!

The gorgeous afghan is finished! When my friend declined my offer of this afghan as a wedding present, I took no offense at all. First, she has no obligation to accept. Second, I am indeed really happy that I can keep it for myself ... really really happy.

This third afghan project of mine took me 20 months to complete. But as with lots of my other "big" projects, I kind of neglected it for quite some time in the middle. The breaking point was when I got a better idea what needle size to use to get the required gauge. The less frustration meant better motivation.

I finished the last row of the cable border and did the grafting last night. I honestly think that my grafting skill has become pretty decent:I even had the awareness of having to graft the first 4 stitches in the garter stitch way. Don't know how to do it? Here is how.

About the border:
After much consideration and search, I decided to use the cable border in the pattern booklet with just one modification. I used provisional cast on and then grafted the two ends together. It is a sew-on border, which would be a turn-off to many of you. However, if you have the experience of knitting lace shawl border, you should know how to change it into a knit-on one. Or you can have a look at this picture tutorial. If cable knitting is not your thing, you can make a garter stitch border like Susan did ... or any stitch pattern of your choice.

Being a complete copy-cat with little imagination, I arranged the squares in the exact same way as in the booklet. The four pillow squares were added to the top tier:

Since this is such a beautiful afghan, I thought it deserves to be taken outdoors to see the light of day. However, I found some unidentified poo-like objects on the lawn in the apartment complex ... I didn't want to take the risk. So, I just put it on the bushes just outside my patio:



Details:
Pattern: The Great American Aran Afghan (XRX Books, 2003)
Amongst the 4 afghan collections published by XRX Books, I believe this is the most loved one as I have no luck searching for people working on the others. For me, it is love at first sight and it is a love that lasts. I also believe that working on this project actually improves my knitting skills. There are certain things that I may not be enthusiastic to do ... first coming to mind is bobbles! But if I want to make the exact same afghan (which is what I want, really), I just have to get them done. And since it is a square at a time, it seems to be a lot bearable.

Yarns: Lion Brand Wool-Ease (20% Wool, 80% Acrylic) Col: Natural Heather
I have lost track of exactly how many balls I used. Only 18 ball bands could be retrieved (yeah, I kept all the ball bands of the yarns I used!), but I believe there are some being tucked aways somewhere inside the apartment. The border alone consumed about 3.5 balls.
I have no complaint concerning Wool-Ease. Actually I am happy that I chose to use this yarn. It is cheap ... and is even cheaper with coupons from Joann's, and the quality is actually acceptable. Will it pill? I don't know ... most probably. But what does it matter? The greatest thumb-up is that I didn't have to keep 20+ balls of yarns for the project at home over years.

Measurements: 72" x 48"

Cast On: December 2005
Cast Off: July 19, 2007

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has visited my blog because of this project. You may or may not have left me comments, but all of you have been really supportive ... for which I am very grateful. Actually, knowing that there are people watching and waiting for me to finish this project provided a great force to drive me to work. So, pardon me for shouting:

THANK YOU ALL VERY MUCH!!!

I already have plan for another afghan project. I am going to make The Great American Afghan for my parents. Wool-Ease would still be my choice of yarns, but I would limit the colours to 2, with either denim or forest green heather as the main colour.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Kids

I don't dislike kids. I just don't like them enough to want to have one in the house 24/7.

I envy people with adorable pets rather than people with adorable kids. Most of the time, at least. This morning, I experienced that feeling of regretting not having a kid around:
According to Ann and Kay, this is the perfect chore for a kid. In the absence of one, I had to do it myself. And I didn't stop sneezing while doing that ... the loose fibres flying around me.

I need a kitchen rug, maybe two. What has been stopping me from making one is the US35 needles ::gasp:: and the chaining of these loops.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Done!

Clue 3 of MS3 is another short one ... only 50 rows. So, it's done:
Now I am free to work on my afghan border again. Second corner was turned ... ::excited::

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Turning the first corner

With all the excitement of churning out the first pair for Summer of Socks and keeping up with Mystery Stole 3, the knitting of GAAA has taken the back seat in the last few weeks. But now while I'm waiting for Clue 3 to come out, I can return to the afghan border.

The knitting of the border was portable at the beginning. However, while approaching the first corner, portable no more:Since I wanted to make sure the corner turning fits well with the corner, I started sewing the border to the afghan while knitting along. The first corner has turned ... and was quite a success:
Oh yes, about the idea of this afghan as a gift. I sent an email to the friend and told her about my idea. I didn't want to impose a gift on her or give her something that won't fit in with her future home. I am happy that I did check in with her first ... turned out she felt that the afghan may not fit well with her home and she already has loads of knitted and woven blankets from her future mother-in-law. So, good news ... I get to keep the GAAA for myself ... plus no more deadline for finishing! :D Okay, so maybe the latter isn't really great news ... but I am pushing myself to finish despite the lace of a deadline. I figure it would be done by early August. YAY!

And of course, I have to start a sock for portable project:I am not usually a pastel person, but this Opal Petticoat really got me. I love it ... so much that I have 2 balls. :D I have been loving those Petticoat plain socks I saw around the knitting blogs, so I would use the remaining ball for a pair of plain socks. But it seems the colourway goes quite well with Waving Lace too.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Pretty Comfy Socks Take 2

Have you ever wondered how far one ball of Elann Esprit (or Cascade Fixation, since they are basically the same yarn) can go? Since I don't like weaving in ends, I often start the second sock with a new ball of yarn. Simply out of curiosity, I decided to continue with the rest of the first ball this time:See? If I knitted a shorter leg, I could very well have a pair from one ball! Maybe I can make myself a pair of anklets next time.

My first pair for Summer of Socks 2007 was done. Mighty fast, huh? But I don't think I am fast enough to match Wendy's 4 pairs so far already! :D





Since it's another pair of carpet-look-alike colour,
I took the photos against a black background (the sofa) this time!


Details:
Pattern: Pretty Comfy Socks designed by Debbie Young
Very pretty pattern but I won't recommend this pattern for a sock-beginner's project. The written pattern would be less confusing (especially the short row heel) if you are already familiar with how to knit a sock. I can see myself making a third pair if this second one die on me again. LOL!

Yarn: Elann Esprit (98.3% Cotton 1.7% Elastic) Col: 7530, Nougat Less than 1.5 balls
I always love wearing freshly knitted socks made out of this yarn because they were always so soft ... a sharp contrast to after they were washed. I wash them in cold water cycle ... never hand wash them. Once washed, the fabric would become a lot tougher. So, I do think from now on, Crystal Palace Panda would be my choice of summer sock yarn ... though I still have some Esprit in my stash.

Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo dpns US3

Cast On: 07-01-2007
Cast Off: 07-08-2007

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The guessing game

I am very happy with my progress in the Mystery Stole 3 project. I finished Clue 1 on Thursday night just in time for Clue 2 to come out on Friday. No problem with knitting from charts now, though there were still a couple of hiccups along the way. Really, I think I should start the habit of using a lifeline. It may cost me a little more time during the knitting, but in case major hiccups occur, those extra amounts of time would be worth the while.

This project is also my first project with beads. See how well the Mill Hill pony beads I got from Stitches West go with my yarn:I originally wanted to get some pink beads for the Hanami Stole but there wasn't any. So I got this colour (18820) and found that it goes better with the KnitPicks Shadow in Sunset. It's fun working with beads ... but I always forgot to put the bead towards the end of a row.

One of the fun parts in the Mystery Stole 3 project is the guessing game. Melanie gave just enough hints at the beginning for us to explore the various possibilities of the theme. I am not much of a guesser but it has been really fun reading everybody's ideas. Now with Clue 2 finished, I still have no idea what the theme would be, but one of the motifs certainly looks familiar:Don't you think it looks like a lotus flower?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Rocking in the Valley

Thanks to Rocking Debi, I am now a Rocking Girl Blogger:


Now it's my turn to nominate another 5 Rocking Girl Bloggers for the award:

Bron - super prolific knitter with loads of beautiful projects and a great sense of humor

hege - I learned a lot about Norwegian knitting from her

Marnie - she knits, she crochets, she spins, she designs ... what else does she not do and do so well?

missalicefaye - her lace projects always make my jaw drop!

Laura - she's a rocking scientist knitter / knitter scientist (?)!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Undulating Rib Socks

I finally managed to cast off and weave in the ends for this pair on the last day of June ... and so keep having at least one sock FO each month. :D A silly little vanity of a knitter, don't you think? LOL!

Have I told you I love this simple pattern? It is just a pity that I never managed to photograph it well ... but believe me, the socks in person look better:Well, yeah, I wore them to take the photos ... but don't you worry, my sock pal, the photos were taken before I washed and blocked them. Besides, I got you a third sock:This is my first mini-sock ... and making it was really fun!

Details:
Pattern: Undulating Rib Socks designed by Ann Budd (Favorite Socks)
Easy, simple and yet not boring to make ... and the ribbing is elastic, so very suitable when you are making the socks for someone else, kind of like an insurance that the socks would fit better. I love this book (thank you again, Debi!) and am planning to make the Waving Lace for my next pair.

Yarn: Interlacements Tiny Toes (100% Superwash Merino Wool) Colour: 211 Renaissance 2 skeins
Let's just pretend I haven't told you how much I like this yarn. ;) So, we all know Socks That Rock yarns have lots of fans ... and I have made 5 pairs of STR socks. However, when I first knitted with Tiny Toes, I fell in love with it. It is really really soft and elastic ... and felt lovely to hold the yarn in your hand and knit with it. I definitely love Tiny Toes a lot more than STR. If you think the colours are too saturated and strong for you, actually they have solid colours and pastel colours too.

Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo dpns US1

Cast On: 05-25-2007
Cast Off: 06-30-2007

Monday, July 02, 2007

My debut of Summer of Socks

How do you assess your own knitting skills? How do you draw the conclusion that you've improved? I'm sure there are numerous ways to do that. But in the past weekend, I found one very effective way.

I loved my first pair of hand-knit socks, which are still resting in peace in the sock drawer. After I finished the Sockapalooza4 socks, I was trying to start a pair using some Elann Esprit in my stash. I tried several patterns but didn't get success. So, I dug up the old printed pattern from the big binder and casted on.

Going through the pattern, the memories all came back ... how I fumbled through the lace pattern, always missing the knitting even rounds; how I just followed the short-row instructions without absolutely no idea what I was doing or what to expect; or how I was frustrated because I forgot the details of the first sock ... and was always paranoid about the second sock might not match.

Starting this pair with the same pattern again, I realized I've come a long way in the knitting of socks (though, of course, there are still soooo many to learn!). And it really feels good when you are well aware of what you are doing ... and in control!
I haven't knitted socks with US3 needles for a long time ... and holy moly! That goes stupid fast*! I just started yesterday noon ... and am now way past the heel already.

*I always chuckled watching the guy catching flies in the Comcast tv stupid fast commercial.