Saturday, May 31, 2008

08:10 Brigid Socks (a.k.a. Chore Socks)

I called them Chore Socks because knitting them felt like doing chores! I blame it on the yarn, or more specifically, the colourway. I have been trying to find a pattern that would go well with it but it was hard. At the end I just resolved to knit anything. Actually maybe I should have made stocking stitch plain socks.

Anyway, they are done now and I don't have too much to say, other than I am really relieved:

Details:
Pattern: Brigid from Goddess Knits
Yarn: Elann Esprit Col: Seashore (9893) just a little bit more than 1 ball was used
Needles: dpns US2
Cast On: 05-01-2008
Cast Off: 05-30-2008

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

This is still a knitting blog

... though there hasn't been much knitting content lately. And one of the culprits for that has been this:
Yeah ... another black widow. This time Husband saw it on the floor in the garage just next to the driver's door. This was last Friday night. Saturday we examined the garage where it appeared ... and discovered a crevice on the wall which may lead to the bushes outside. The fact that there were so many spider-encounters in our apartment while our neighbours seem unaffected may be because of this passageway. So, exterminator came this morning and sprayed. We also spent the whole afternoon tidying up the garage ... throwing away empty cartons and putting things in covered plastic storage boxes, more spraying around the walls and entrance, sweeping ... so we were both exhausted. But the good thing is we now have a tidy garage! :D We would also request the management to block that crevice. Fingers crossed all these would solve the problem.

And then the car shopping during the Memorial Day weekend. This is our new car:
Though my driving skills have been approved by Husband, for his peace of mind, he still wants me to drive an SUV. Have I told you I had my first car's rear light broken and its right side scratched within the first week? And then had another car bumped into me in a parking lot within the first month? But those were the only 2 accidents I have so far. Yesterday I arranged to have the old car donated and towed away.

Not only have I been ignoring my knitting, but also my gardening. I just managed to water the existing pots, no time for sowing new seeds. Before winter came last year, I planted some daisies and they are now blooming sparingly:
Don't they look like coming right out from a Cingular AT&T "More Bars in More Areas" commercial? LOL!

I am pressing forward with my socks hoping to have them done in May. Another fingers crossed. :)

Monday, May 26, 2008

Stalled

... and that's the condition of my knitting projects right now. I ran out of yarn for the Lacy Dress and I couldn't find any in the stores. Most probably I have to order online ... dyelot is not a problem for me. I just plan to wear it to the swimming pool anyway ... who cares? Then there is the socks ... I would really want to get it done soon, but somehow I lost the pattern print out ... and I lost patience watching the laptop screen. Maybe I should get it through the chart, from then on I don't really need the pattern.

So, that's it. Now let's move on to other project. I made this and I am not too happy with my own sewing:
The curved lines are simply not good enough. I think I know the problem ... I didn't clip along the curved seam allowance. Besides, I should have stuffed the ball fuller. But I have to say, this is a pretty intelligent design and was fun to make. I am using this as a pin cushion ... my first actually.

Stash. Not yarn stash ... but fabrics:
I tried to stop myself from going to Big Lots! too often because I know this is going to happen. But can you blame me? I washed them already and they softened up a lot ...

Then there are these:

Remember the Kermit the Frog book cover I made for my friend? Well she likes it a lot. And after showing her this, she and another good friend would like to have similar ones. Since they were visiting Taiwan earlier, I told them they could shop around for fabrics they liked. It turned out they had lots of fun in the quilt shop (link in Chinese), and oh how I envied them! They also bought me this book which is a collection of sewing/patchwork/needle felting projects by the shop owner:
Looks like I'm going to be busy sewing for a while! :D

Update on the car: The service department called on Saturday saying the repair would amount to $1600 while my car in working condition may be only worth around $3000+. After considering our options and abilities, we decided to lease a new car and donate this one to charities. We chose to lease because we hope that after 3 years, there would be more satisfactory hybrid models to choose from in the market. Last time I checked, it was $4.09 a gallon of unleaded regular gas here ... need always prompts improvement, right?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Please please please don't die on me!

So I sat in my car in the Whole Foods underground parking, talking gently to it, caressing the key-ignition ... doing anything I could so that it wouldn't die on me. But as the technician (how do you call the man who came to help you start your car?) said, my car just didn't like me today! Waiting for him to come already took me an hour; and I had to continue to wait for the tow truck. Then to the service department and then waiting for Husband to come and pick me up.

Last stop - home.

Physical conditions - thirsty, hungry and exhausted!

So, instead of showing you stash and project as promised, I chose to drop this short post and then go for a nap.

Wish your day was better than mine ... and enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Are you still blogging?

Well, I am. Mmm ... at least I have the intention to. I so planned to post regularly on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week at the beginning of the week, but just got caught up in daily chores. Since I read this article, I decided to try to be a better housekeeper! Have I given you the impression that my apartment is a big mess? LOL! Actually, it's not that bad, just some clutters here and there and some dust bunnies around some inconspicuous corners. I would like to do better.

As you may have noticed, the knitting blog community has been slimmed down quite a bit. To me, this is inarguably a result of Ravelry. While I enjoy using Ravelry, I am still enjoying keeping my blog and reading yours. I'm hoping given time, another new generation/wave of knitter-bloggers would come. For the time being, I'm doing my part by keeping this humble blog of mine alive. :)

Tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll have new stash and project to show.

Monday, May 19, 2008

We need some spider control!

Recap of the past weekend:
-3 spiders appeared in various parts of the apartment at various times Friday night. One was too big to capture and release, so we had to kill it.

-Early Saturday, we went to hardware stores shopping for stuff to repel spiders. We tried to find something that just stop them from coming into the house; however, we discovered that only "kill on contact" stuffs were available. At the end, we bought this and this:If you have other effective and eco-friendly and humane method of spider control, you are very welcome to provide the information. Thanks in advance.

-I watched the Indiana Jones Trilogy again on Sci-Fi Channel ... still like the third one best. We bought the first season of Monk and John Carpenter's The Thing ... and watched the movie last night. After having watched it for so many times (how many? I forgot!), I still found it frightening. :P

-We went to the swimming pool Saturday and Sunday doing laps. Husband taught me to dive and touch the bottom of the pool ... it was fun! But I was extremely exhausted last night!

-We had dinner in this Indian restaurant ... the food was very delicious! Yum!

After finishing the quilt, I finally returned to my knitting. Since the temperature suddenly shot up close to 100F last Thursday, socks also become out of season altogether. My motivation to finish the socks on needles was to be able to wear them ... but now it only hangs on to SAM5! But I discovered some lovely sock yarns on a trip to Purlescene:
I think it would be perfect for a pair of Nancy Bush's lacy socks.

There is also some progress on the Lacy Dress:
I am knitting the lower panel for the back now. I read on Ravelry that someone was making this in the round ... I guess it wouldn't be too complicated to change the pattern for that; but somehow, I like knitting in pieces and sew them up. :D I am hoping to finish this ASAP as it would be my dress of choice on top of my swimsuit going to the swimming pool.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Colour Zen

"I never cease to be amazed by this design." This is one of the Flickr comments I got for the Colour Wheel Quilt. Actually, I always feel the same way about this design too:
Actually, it is mesmerizing just looking at how one colour morphs into another ... and then the wheel comes full circle. Round shapes ... circles ... infinity ... completeness ... wholeness ... isn't that very Zen?

This is the quilt resting on our bed. I made it larger than the original design. At first I planned on an extra 9" around, but the width of the batting came narrower than stated in the package, so I could only make it extra 7" around. It now measures 69" x 69".

Because the quilt lines are radiating from the centre following the seams of the wheel, I thought the best way to do the extension is mitered corners:
Pretty neat, huh?

Instead of white binding, I used a tie-dye type red fabric in small prints. How do you like it? I think it works well ... at least for me! :) I chose to do the double-fold binding instead of machine-attached binding. I like hand stitching the binding to the back of the quilt. The hand stitching went pretty fast ... faster than I expect ... I finished it in one day. And with me getting more familiar with using a thimble, the stitching was a breeze.

As a first full-size quilt project, I think I did a decent job ... and there is not much puckering. Of course, the thread-basting proved to be worth the while. I spent 2 days on it, but the machine quilting actually benefited from it ... the layering was pretty even, and I didn't have to stop and remove pins.

Specs:
Pattern: Colour Wheel Quilt from Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts
Fabrics: The bundle for the project from Purl; Egyptian Cotton, Calico White Prints, red fabric remnants from JoAnn's
Batting: Mountain Mist Cotton Blossom Cotton/Silk Blend

I'm sure you can understand my excitement ... so a couple more pictures of this beautiful quilt:
I should be taking it out to the park and take pictures, but since the backing is white and the temperature here shoots up to 100F today, indoors shots are fine with me.

Now I think I can really say "I love quilting"!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Next time, you can just tell me I'm crazy!

When I said I decided to do "hand-basting", what I meant was "thread basting". I can see that many of you know what "thread basting" is ... as I read "patience" and "ambitious" in your comments ... hahaha ... but next time, if I say I'm going to thread baste again, you can tell me outright that I'm crazy!

I came to that conclusion myself after spending 2 days doing the basting, and having great pain in my left arm (this is strange since I'm right-handed) and butts and thighs. The pain in the arm was so severe that I could feel it in my sleep ... so I didn't sleep well and had to get up and take an Advil.

Luckily, the pain just lasted one day. With the right tools ready, I got things done relatively quickly:
thimble, curved needle, Hera marker,
dressmaker's cutting board

I didn't come to appreciate the true value of having a Hera marker until working on the quilt lines of this project. The marked lines can actually hold up for 3 days ... that's amazing! Since 90% of my apartment is carpeted, I really need the cutting board for the marking. This made me miss my grandfather's dressmaker's cutting table. He ran a home-factory with a few seamstresses (my mother and my aunts) sewing garments. In his home, there was a huge cutting table ... so big that me and my brother could play on it.

The quilting is done and I can now move on to the last step - binding:

Friday, May 09, 2008

The joy of clean carpet

The carpet cleaning man came on Wednesday. This was my first time having someone clean the carpet, so didn't know what to expect; now I know I would ask him to vacuum it dryer so that it would dry faster!

But the great joy of having clean carpet is being able to start basting the Colour Wheel quilt:
I chose to do hand-basting and it is going to take forever!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Aloneness

I read this inspiring post a few days ago.

When I first came to the States, Husband was a bit worried about me always being alone at home when he was at work ... hardly knowing anyone else, not knowing how to drive, so I was pretty much confined to staying at home. He was able to feel relieved when he found that I enjoyed being in my own company and never ran out of things to do. Maybe to some people, I am even too much of a hermit. But the fact is when I am alone, I don't feel lonely.

I am quite sure that little girl would thank her mom for handing down such a precious gift. :)

One of the excitements of completing a big project is the opportunity of starting new ones. My original plan was to start the Unst Stole after finishing Diva. Actually, if I did start, it would be my third attempt on this lace project. However, one thing I forgot was the use of provisional cast on ... which I am still not able to do without checking knitting how-to books. Being lazy and not wanting to figure out how to do that again, I turned to another lace project:
Isn't this pretty? The pattern is Lacy Dress on the cover of VK Spring/Summer 2007. The is the back of the bodice. I am using a much thicker yarn (TLC Cotton Plus) than the one used in the pattern.

There is also new sock on the needles:
This is supposed to be a cable pattern (Brigid). But as you can see, the pattern is completed obscured by the colourway. I can tell you that almost nothing works for this colourway, except plain stocking stitch and simple ribbing of course. I just want to finish this pair as fast as I can and start something else.

Monday, May 05, 2008

08:09 Diva and new books

Before I tell you about the new FO, let's talk books. To be more specific, knitting books. Due to the lack of space, I am now really selective with knitting books. Most of the time, I checked them out from the library to decide if they are worth owning. If it is mainly a book of knitting patterns, the answer is usually no ... I don't have time to knit those I already own anyway. However, when it is a book like The Knitter's Book of Yarn, one that is worth reading besides the lovely patterns, I just think every fiber lover should own one.

And then there comes books like A Fine Fleece. I tried, but I know I am no spinner. Basically, I can just skip the spinning section and go directly to the patterns ... so it is a book of knitting patterns to me. But this is a book I know I have to have ... even without checking it beforehand. I just can't resist exquisite cable/aran designs, even though the sweater designs are mostly guernsey-style without much waist-shaping. I made one sweater like this before and I just love wearing it (yes, it was originally for Husband!) Besides, the book is so beautifully produced that I just don't want to put it down!

Now let's talk project FO. I just wish I had started this project earlier so I can wear it immediately instead of putting it away for a few months. But still, lucky me that it was a bit cool when I took the picture so I wouldn't be sweat-soaked ... hahaha ...

Anyway, I love this cardigan. I love the big shawl-style collar, although I wish I had used a smaller needle for the that part so that it would be less drooping than now. But I still love it ... love the style. I made the small size and it fits me ... I am not really a small woman, especially now I have gained some weight, so I guess this pattern is not for the true petite type. Besides, I think the collar requires a body frame with relatively wide shoulders in order to hold the shape. I do okay but I wish I had straighter and wider shoulders.



Details:
Pattern: Diva designed by Hanne Falkenberg
Very special garment structure which makes the knitting a very fun process even though the whole thing was knitted in garter stitch. As you can expect, the pattern was well written and I just followed the instructions ... though sometimes I would wonder why, and I would then soon see why.
The pin that came with the kit feels a bit too heavy, so I will be looking for a lighter one. I especially love the slit cuffs. Actually, a lot of features of this cardigan reminds me of Teva Durham's Diagonal Twist Princess-seam Cardigan.

Yarn: 100% wool Shetland 2ply yarn (in colours black and oatmeal)
I bought the kit from this eBay seller ... super fast shipment from UK, reasonable price and shipping cost, well-packaged ... simply put, I can't say enough good things about her store. The Shetland wool was pretty rough to the hand but softened greatly after bath. The 2ply yarn gives a very light but warm cardigan ... perfect for everyday wear in California winters. There is even a sewn in designer label for the finished cardigan but somehow I didn't know where I put mine. :)

Needles: Addi turbo circulars 3.5mm for the body and collar; 3.25mm for the sleeves

Cast On: 03-11-2008
Cast Off: 05-03-2008

With one cardigan finished, I have moved on and have my eyes on this. :D