Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Idle hands

After knitting full force on sweaters for several weeks, I didn't work on anything in particular the last 2 nights. The feeling of having idle hands was a little bit weird. Since I'd like to spend more time on my first quilt, I am not going to start any new knitting project. Most probably just work on the socks and maybe a couple of GAA squares in the mean time.

About the quilt, most of the cutting was done. This afternoon, I worked on the arrangements of the colour wheel:I hope I can start the sewing tomorrow. The problem with sewing is that I prefer using the machine during the day (in fear of the noise disturbing the neighbours), the time of the day when I should vacuum, clean, do grocery shopping, and many other things ... hahaha ... So, I can see that progress would be slow.

Since the size of the quilt is a bit odd, not too small but not big enough, I am considering enlarging it. I am still undecided whether to do it this way or this way. What would be your choice?

This year, we got to experience what Black Friday was like. We went to Fry's looking for a DVD player in the afternoon. Of course we didn't buy anything when we discovered that the queue for checking out ran around half of the store (and it is a big one!). Now we know Black Friday is not just an ordinary sales day. We returned at around 6 p.m. and the queue was gone. We didn't get the DVD player but did make a great discovery:We love this chocolate! Besides, the assortment box is mighty useful too:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pink comes in two

It's a totally different shade of pink, but still in the same family of pink ... Guess I won't knit pink for quite another while.

I almost didn't make this cardigan. The gauge is 11 stitches to 10 cm ... I don't have such thick yarns in my stash. Then, I read Lori Z's FO post and realized there are actually 2 gauge versions! 17 stitches to 10 cm sounds much better to me. Then I hesitated. When looking at the jacket's photos, I felt that a heathery yarn would be the best. I was not really sure the petal pink yarns I had would be good. But then I thought, what the hack!

So, I cast on ... and well, made the jacket! Since this is a jacket, I chose to make the M size. But I guess I could have made the S size and still get a good fit. As it turns out, this jacket in petal pink is not too bad after all ... actually I am very very happy with the result.



Details:
Pattern: DROPS Jacket Pattern 103-1
The pattern is actually very simple but the writings are not that straightforward. Or I should say it is not so to those of us who are used to American pattern writing. I had the greatest problem with the sleeve cap: "When the piece measures [certain length] bind off for the sleeve cap on every other row: 3 sts 1 time, 2 sts 3 time and 1 sts 1-2-3-4-6-7 times.
Continue to bind off 2 sts each side until the piece measures 41 (56) cm [15¾” (21 5/8”)], then bind off 3 sts each side 1 time and bind off remaining sts." The instructions in italics didn't make much sense to me. So this is what I did:
1) instead of "every other row", I did the bind of every row
2) then I did the decrease one stitch each side rather than "bind off 2 stitches each side
However, maybe what I did wasn't quite right, or the same as intended by the pattern, that was why my sleeve caps, especially the left one, look a bit crunched up.
I have looked into all the FO photos of this project in Ravelry and decided that 3/4 sleeves are the best. But what I got seems to be somewhere between 3/4 and full sleeve. Okay, confession ... I didn't swatch to the full ... no washing the swatch. So, maybe the yarn stretched a bit after wash.
After all that's said, again, I love this jacket! Love the buttons too ... got them in Joann:
Yarn: Jaeger Como (90% Merino, 10% Polyamide) Col: Petal
I have used this yarn before and learned my lesson. So I avoided all patterns with cables or that are too complicated. At first I thought even the double moss stitch wouldn't work either! Luckily it turned out not too bad. For the M size, I used 7 balls.
Not my most favourite yarn and I am happy that I have used most of what I have.

Needle: Denise US9

Cast On: 11-19-2007
Cast Off: 11-25-2007

I think I am going to put a hault to this sweater craze for a while and put more time on my first quilt. Yes! See the colourful bundles of fabrics I got for it:All have been washed and ironed and I am now in the stage of cutting.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This "to-do-list" thing

Thank you all very much for the comments ... obviously the Gathering Intentions pattern is quite a crowd pleaser. Reading through your comments made me think about this "to-do-list" thing. Do you literally have a list of things you plan to knit? Or you just keep a mental list? Or both?

I did try writing down a list during the early days ... but it just ended up being tucked away among the many papers on the desk. So, I mostly just did the mental listing. Occasionally, I did mention some project ideas that I would love to knit on the blog. When Ravelry came along, I started my queue, with quite some enthusiasm, but also some restrain when I discovered that a long list gives me anxiety.

Besides, I kind of become a bit superstitious about items on the to-do-list or even mentioning future projects on the blog. It is like by doing either, I feel that I've done it already ... and then it is just forgotten and never gets done. Take this month, for example, in which I have been knitting sweaters like crazy. Yet none of them were from my Ravelry queue, but more from my mental list or the flight of my fancy at the time.

How about you? What usually happens to your to-do-list?

November is definitely a sweater's month here. The frenzy continues and is going strong:Yeah ... another pink project ... hehehe ... and another project not from the Ravelry queue. :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Oh so girly!

Debi said that the sweater is very girly ... it's true, especially with the strawberry pink. This is a colour I rarely wear, even when I was a girl ... as I has always been more a tomboy than a girl. But I have to admit, this strawberry cream pink by Lion Brand is really lovely ... too bad it is now gone.

I am the type of knitters who don't really like spending time doing modification to a pattern, except unless it's absolutely necessary. With this pattern, I basically knit to the book ... except for one major modification. I decided not to make the i-cord knotting for the sleeve ... they would just bring trouble to someone messy like me.




Details:
Pattern: Gathering Intentions designed by Fiona Ellis from Inspired Cable Knits
This is a beautiful pattern ... the kind that would catch your eyes (well, at least mine), say, amongst the patterns in a magazine. Though it is an all-over cable design, the sweater doesn't feel heavy or clumsy at all when worn.
There are several design features that I love about this sweater:
- the knot. Though I didn't make the one on the sleeve, I think the knots are the one feature that makes the sweater special.
- the cable running along the armhole shaping ... well, this is just neat design.
- the neckband. Another neat design and it adds comfort to the sweater too.

Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease (50% Cotton, 50% Acrylic) Col: Strawberry Cream 6 balls for the smallest size
Nothing else to say about this yarn ... except I love it!

Needles: Denise US7

Cast On: 11-11-2007
Cast Off: 11-18-2007

Sock mojo is still pretty weak ... but I intend to finish the Maizy socks for Husband ASAP. I will also spend some time on my sewing ... I'd love to make something ... what? Don't know yet. But this gorgeous quilt is certainly stunning and motivating!

The girl in Goldfinger wears a beautiful aran cardigan ... makes me want to make one. :) Tuulia has a gorgeous cardigan pattern published in Finnish and I would really really love to make one. I don't know a single word of Finnish, but she has kindly translated it into English!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Enough socks?

As you may have noticed, I am in the sweater knitting mood/mode lately. I still have a sock project on the needle, but really, the sock knitting mojo is pretty low right now. Why?

Call me crazy, but what I am feeling now is "Well, I have enough socks." Seriously, I have more than one week's sock supplies. So, the urge to make new ones is not that big ... though seeing the beautiful ones popping up here and there did provide some sort of motivation, but unfortunately not strong enough to pull me away from my Gathering Intentions:When knitting the front, I already entered the stage when knitting the cable pattern had become like knitting stocking stitches, but interesting enough to keep me from feeling bored. The very enjoyable stage.

I am quite sure that the sock mojo would be back later ... it always does. Otherwise, I would be in trouble ... considering the sock yarn stash! Who said sock yarns don't count as stash?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Some random thoughts and an update

Perhaps one of the reasons I don't like winter here is the change of the clock. Without this, daylight can last until at least 6 in the evening; now it is pitch dark at 5:30!

Receiving, or more accurately, being woken up by anonymous phone calls in the middle of the night, say, 3 a.m., really gives you creeps on the spine! I just wanted to scream profanity into the receiver, or better, reach into the receiver and strangle that creep on the other end, last night!

I was a bit disappointed by the latest IK ... not because of the patterns (they are okay), but because this girl was not one of the models! I think she is one of the most beautiful knitwear models ... and so I am definitely biased, but she always gets to wear the more wonderful designs. Without her, the magazine seems so plain.

How much do you like Ravelry? I like it not so much as a social network (I am really not that sociable anyway) but it seems Ravelry has replaced my other blog for keeping records of my knitting/crocheting projects. It would be really great if there is something similar for sewing projects. I also like it as a knitting patterns central. That was how I got the idea of making Gathering Intentions. By the way, the back is almost done:I am loving it!

Have you read the story of Sugar Ray? If not, be prepared before you read ... it would break your heart. Do you think you can spare a few dollars to help? I thank you on behalf of the poor little guy in advance.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Unstoppable!

Unstopptable is my sense of urgency to knit up my stash! I am not kidding ... just after finishing the black Regine yesterday, another sweater project was started today. I think this is good ... I have been stalling with the sweater projects I had in mind, so let's just capitalize on this urge right now to have a few more new things to wear.

Oh, about the latest FO. I love the shape of Regine a lot and I think it is a very flattering sweater. I've always thought that I would make another one and it MUST be in black. Don't know why ... but a black Regine would be awesome. And it is! The Cotton Ease is so comfortable that I don't want to take it off. :D


Details:
Pattern: Regine designed by Sauniell N. Connally
Since I have gained some weight (oops!), I made the medium size this time. To avoid the neckline being too wide open, I knitted 2 more rounds for the neckband before doing the front short rows.

Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease (50% Cotton, 50% Acrylic) Col: Licorice 4.5 balls
This is one of those discontinued colours and I love this black colour ... I don't have dandruff problem and black makes you look thinner ... LOL! This sweater would get quite some use before the really cold winter comes.

Needles: Denise US5 for the body and Aero 3.5mm circular for the neckband

Cast On: 11-02-2007
Cast Off: 11-10-2007

Wanna a look at my new project? Laura has made the same sweater using the same yarn:But I am using a different colour, which I think is the most beautiful pink I've seen ... and sadly, is also a discontinued colour!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

New project to drive away to grey

Most probably many of you are feeling excited over the coming cold weather ... but the foggy grey weather is just a bit too depressing for me! Maybe I just need some adjusting.

When last week's earthquake happened, Husband was home with me ... and I had just visited my parents a few weeks prior ... so naturally my thoughts turned to the yarn stash in the closet! :D So now I am knitting fiercely! hahaha ... not too much, really, but I did pick up the knitting of sweaters again. The latest project:Just one more sleeve and I'll have another sweater! See you again when it's done. :D

Sunday, November 04, 2007

I made a bag!

At some point, I thought I was never able to get this together. You know, the same story about my assembling all the notions for a sewing project ... it just seemed I always left something out. I am just hoping this would get better with my increasing sewing experience.

But finally. Finally the bag is finished!This is my version of Amy Butler's Frenchy Bag. Mine doesn't really have an "Amy Butler look" ... most probably because of the more subtle pattern of the fabrics. Those Amy Butler fabrics don't always work for me ... actually, most of the time they don't. But I fell for this bag immediately. I am not a bag person ... and I can use one bag for a very very long time. However, the fact that I can made a bag presentable enough to be used is indeed a thrilling thing.

I said "presentable enough" because you really can't have very close inspection without finding some imperfect spots. But anyway, who cares? It's done; it can hold things; so it is good and I love it. Take a peek of the inside:It is quite a big bag yet I have to remind myself not to "overstuff" it ... otherwise, the lovely shape would get distorted.

The exterior fabric is a great bargain I found in Big Lots! Yeah, Big Lots! That came as a great surprise to me too ... fabrics! $5 for 2 yards of 54" wide home decor fabrics. Okay, so you need to dig deep for patterns you like ... or even go to a different store for different choices ... but $5 for 2 yards! I bought this originally thinking of cushions and bolsters; and after making the bag, I still have lots of fabrics left for cushions and bolsters! :D As for the lining fabric, it is one of those remnants I grabbed when browsing in Joann's ... these always come in handy especially when they are of larger pieces.

Now I have a new bag ... let's go shopping!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ink Flared Sweater

Casey asked me if I was going to share how I fixed that problem section ... oh yes. The only problem is I didn't take pictures. Basically, I followed the suggestion of the very knowledgeable Debi (thank you so much, Debi), that is cutting out the thin section and knitting back the required number of rows, and then grafting the two sections together. One thing I'd like to remind you if, unfortunately, you have to do similar thing, cut in the middle of the thin section. That would definitely be safer ... you are trying to get rid of that section anyway. The grafting was really not that bad ... with thick-and-thin yarn like this, the knitted fabric is very uneven in the first place.

Okay ... the good news is, as you can guess from my last post, the sweater is finished ... but (there is always a "but") the yarns I showed you last time were not enough for me to finish the sleeve cap. How I wish Nanette's suggestion of doubling the thin yarn had come in earlier! Instead, I have to gather all those scraps from previous failed casting on attempts ... yeah, the yarn broke at least three times when I cast on for one of the body pieces. So, good news ... no need to buy another skein; bad news ... lots of loose ends to weave in ...

What about the seaming and neck band? Luckily, since I didn't trust Cash Iroha to be a sturdy yarn for seaming, I decided to double strand the Deluxe wool I used for Husband's sweater and the green Clapotis for seaming. But that still leave yarns needed for the neck band. What about a different colour?Can you recognize the orange yarn? Yes, leftover from the Diagonal Twist Princess-seam Jacket. Notice how the tweed flecks in the orange yarn match the colour of the main body? Perfect! One thing I learned from knitting Norah Gaughan's Shell Tank is the reverse stocking stitch for neck band ... simple but effective in solving the problem of rolling neck. So now, I have a sweater with 2 colours:I like the roomy fit and the length is just perfect; however, I feel something more is needed to make the neck band more natural. I definitely feel that today is my lucky day ... the Purl Bee blog carried a duplicate stitch tutorial today! So, I used the orange yarn and added a little something:Duplicate stitch for the flower center and backstitch for the petals ... totally freehand. Now the neck band feels more organic to the sweater:How do you like it?

Details:
Pattern: Ink Flared Sweater by Black Dog Designs
I could have made the smallest size, but somehow I love to have a more roomy sweater. Instead of casting off the pieces when finished, I left them on as live stitches. Since the neck line seemed to be too wide for me, I decreased evenly 12 stitches when picking up the live stitches and knitted 3 rows of reverse stocking stitch. Since I like the rolled edge of the sweater, I skipped the single crochet on the hem.

Yarn: Noro Cash Iroha (40% Silk, 30% Lambswool, 20% Cashmere, 10% Nylon) in Colour#93
The pattern suggested 8 hanks for the medium size ... but I used every bit of the 10 hanks I had. Even without the little drama of the thin portion, there is no way I could make this with just 8 hanks.
I totally hated this yarn during the course of knitting! Perhaps I don't really need to elaborate on why anymore ... LOL! But I think I like the knitted fabric. It is not butter soft ... but quite comfortable and definitely warm. Will I use it again? Mmm ... nope!

Needle and Gauge: 16 sts to 4" (10cm) over stocking st using Denise US 10 needles ... but I think my row gauge was more loose, thus my sleeves are longer.

Cast On: 10-24-2007
Cast Off: 11-01-2007