Tuesday, March 31, 2009

09:05 Spring Thaw Socks

The baby knitting and lace knitting took a bit more time that I expected, so once again I pushed the finishing of the socks to the last. Luckily March is a longer month (okay, one day longer ... hehehe ...) so I felt I had a little more room to get them done.


I really like this pattern. The spiraling leaves along the socks are beautiful and the stretchy twisted ribbing makes it very comfortable to wear. However, honestly, it wasn't that much fun to knit. Constantly twisting the knit stitches seemed to add stress to my right elbow and lower arm. So, as much as I love this pattern, I doubt I would make it again soon. Besides, I expect to receive Cookie's new book in the next couple of days! I've been psyched to get this new sock book ...

Wanna have a closer look at the leaves?
There is one thing I need to improve on, though. Even after adjusting the length of the foot before starting the heel, the socks are still a tad long ... not much, just a tiny bit. If I want to get a better grip of this new sock structure, I certainly have to make another pair soon ... otherwise, the enthusiasm would be taken over by the comfort of the familiar cuff down method.

Details:
Pattern: Spring Thaw Socks designed by Cat Bordhi (Knitter's Magazine 91, Summer 2008)
Yarn: Opal Uni Solid 4 ply (75% Superwash Wool, 25% Polyamide) in Light Olive
Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo dpns 2.75mm
Cast On: 03-03-2009
Cast Off: 03-29-2009

I got a surprise in the mail today. The latest VK just arrived and I love it! It is just too bad that they didn't even get the preview/contents to their web yet. The lace shawl by Shirley Paden is very tempting. It is nothing very sophisticated, just chevron lace, but the crocheted edging makes a great difference to the whole look of the shawl. If you are not a subscriber, check back on their site for the preview ... I think you would like this issue too. :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It took longer than expected

I thought there were only 68 rows in the border. Again, my carelessness in reading patterns. There are actually 136 rows.

But it is certainly lovely:
The piece was only slightly stretched in the picture. I am sure with proper blocking, it is going to be very beautiful. :)

Monday, March 23, 2009

09:04 Hooded Carrying Bag

Unlike many of you, I'm not a big fan of baby knitting ... even though the finished projects are very often cute. Therefore, I am really excited that this baby gift was finally finished! And I also reconsidered the baby items on my March goal-list. I decided to scratch out the Changing Mat Bag ... I would think a baby blanket would be a more welcomed item.

My gauge using the yarn was a bit bigger than the one in the pattern, so my finished bag would be a bigger. I think for baby items, bigger is always better than smaller, isn't that right? I hope it would be able to accommodate the baby beyond his/her first year.

I've seen quite a lot of stitch pattern variation of the project on Ravelry. However, I decided to keep to the garter stitch ... even though it was getting pretty tiresome. The great thing about garter stitch is its stretchiness ... which is good for baby knits.

Badly in need of a model for the carrying bag, I recruited my stuff animals; but unfortunately, they are not exactly of normal baby-size:

Due to a mistake I made, instead of being placed side by side, the two fronts have to overlap on 3 stitches when joined. This made the installation of zipper quite inconvenient. So I used 6 sew-on snaps instead.
If you are thinking of making this, I would suggest you to use provisional cast on so that you can make a seamless bag by kitchener stitch at the end. I used 3-needle bind off to complete the hood:
Quite a nice way ... look seamless from the outside.

Details:
Pattern: Hooded Carrying Bag from Essential Baby by Debbie Bliss
Yarn: Lion Brand Vanna's Choice Print (100% Acrylic) in Seaspray Mist (5.5 skeins)
The colour I've chosen is absolutely lovely. The yarn is reasonably smooth. I put the finished bag into the washer and dryer and it holds up well.
Needle: Denise US6
Cast On: 03-03-2009
Cast Off: 03-20-2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The hummingbirds never leave


This year, the clock change for DST arrived unbelievably quietly ... maybe it was because of the economic crisis, tv news and radio stations just gave a brief mention and that was it. This past winter, I found out that hummingbirds here never leave. They would be in hiding when there was a storm or if it rained, but once it was dry, they would come out again. Compared to other parts of the country, there is really no winter here.

So, give it another couple of weeks, maybe I have to put away the wool sweaters. I only needed to wear the bulky sweater once this past winter. Got to re-evaluate the to-knit list ... but bulky items seldom make it to my list anyway.

Today, some people were wearing short-sleeved cotton tees. I had my February Lady on. I kept asking myself ... should I start the Autumn Rose Pullover now? It would be good to start now and have it finished well before the next cold season comes. But yet, when it is so springy and warm outside, I am wanting to make something for the warm season!

The baby knitting is finished and all I need is to sew the snaps on:
Yeah, due to a mistake, zipper is no longer the ideal method of closure. ;)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Patience

My exercise routine reached a new milestone last week. I am still working on the treadmill for 30 minutes every time. Last week, I was able to walk/jog 2 miles in 30 minutes! Yay! I am still alternating the walking and jogging sessions, but now I can do 5 minutes/5 minutes sessions and the jogging speed is 4.8 mph. I think this would be the limit for me, so if I want to accomplish more distance, I would need to spend more time on the machine.

Or, I can add strength training exercises. And I did. Once again, keeping things simple helps. At first, I just did one set (10) each of squats and lunges. These have always been exercises I really dislike doing ... but they don't need any equipment ... simple. This week, I start doing sets of 12 ... not much, but still improvement. I also add 2 sessions (25 counts each) of plank. My goal is to be able to do 1 minute at a time.

One thing I learned from this exercising experience is ... Patience is the Rule. Start as moderately as it suits you. Set humble, reachable but still challenging goals to keep the motivation alive. Before you know it, you are making progress!

The baby knitting is progressing too:
I think I'd better go get a zipper tomorrow so that I would be able to put that in if I can manage to finish the knitting the coming weekend.

Monday, March 09, 2009

New Green

Last time I tried Cat Bordhi's new way of sock knitting, I didn't get anywhere. But I figure this is what may happen when one leaves her comfort zone and tries something new.

So, I tried again. :) The Spring Thaw Sock is a really eye-catching pattern. Making it in March is the perfect time to welcome spring. And what's a better colour than green?
Just finished the heel turning. But getting there was not smooth sailing at all. I know there are numerous ways to cast on for toe-up socks: Bordhi uses Judy's magic cast on and many knitters favoured Turkish cast on. Unfortunately, both didn't work for me. Every time I knit toe-up pattern, I attempt to use these 2 methods ... and get frustrated. Then I have to resort to Figure 8 cast on. Maybe next time I should save myself some time and go straight to my tried and successful method. :)

Then, the needle size. I used the suggested US2 since the total number of stitches after the toe-increasing is only 58. However, the twisted rib turns out to be quite stretchy in this pattern. I am using US1 now, but I suspect even US0 would be okay.

Next is the foot length. I used the calculation in the pattern and started the leaf pattern after 4" of knitting even. That was proved to be half an inch too long. Now it is just right:
I like the arch structure of Bordhi's pattern. But I think I need more practice to get the new approach internalized ... especially the numbers involved in the heel turning.

Thank you very much for your input on the Autumn Rose swatches. (I have pulled the poll.) I like the top half of Swatch #1 and the bottom half of Swatch #3. Since I don't want to get stuck in the swatching zone, I decide to combine the two parts that I like instead of swatching again. However, the fair isle pullover would have to give way for the baby knitting ... baby grows fast, you know, so I don't have one minute to lose. :)
Another project in green! The gender of the baby is unknown, so green would be perfect.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Plan for March

Before talking about March, maybe I should evaluate my February goals:

  • 1 pair of socks (just cast on but the yarn may not work out with the pattern, so may have to start over again!) DONE! (Dublin Bay Socks)
  • 1 square for GAA DONE! (Celeste Pinheiro Square)
  • make at least 3 repeats for the Unst Stole (I already have 5 done, so the goal would be to have a total of 8 complete, leaving 2 remaining for March) DONE! (Actually I managed to finish the remaining 5 repeats!)
  • make a swatch for Autumn Rose Pullover DONE! (I made 3!)
  • work on the TKGA Basics, Basics, Basics Lesson 1 (there are 5 swatches plus questions for each to be submitted) PARTLY DONE (the knitting was finished but the written part not!)
Conclusion: Not too bad indeed! :D

For March, I have plans in different areas:

Knitting:
  • 1 pair of socks (for the moment I have chosen to make Cat Bordhi's Spring Thaw Socks)
  • 2 GAA squares (I started the first one already)
  • at least one border for the Unst Lace Stole
  • 2 baby knits (Hooded Carrying Bag & Changing Mat Bag) for a friend
  • cast on Autumn Rose Pullover
  • swatch for Seamless Hybrid
  • get the written part of lesson 1 done and have it mailed

Sewing:
  • 2 Crazy Quilt Bookcovers (promised to make for 2 friends ages ago ... it's time to work on them!)

Non-Crafting related:
  • Get the taxes done! (this is always a headache!)
About the Autumn Rose Pullover, yes, I made 3 swatches for it (Husband said I was obsessed!). Decision has already been made, but just out of curiosity ... which one do you like most?

Swatch #1

Swatch #2

Swatch #3



Results of the Poll:
Swatch #1 50%
Swatch #2 33%
Swatch #3 17%
Total Votes: 18

Thank you very much for your input. :)