Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Some Old ... Some New

I am going well with the sweater:

I had a hard time straightening the pieces but you can still see the pattern. I have finished the pattern and what remains is increasing on both ends on every 4th in stockinnette stitch. Therefore I need something more challenging:

Cute, huh? I fell in love with Wavy the moment I saw it in Knitty and have been eager to make one for myself ever since. I am knitting it with Filatura Di Crosa 501 in Garnet. I think I have changed a little bit in my taste for colours. I am beginning to be more open to wearing red. Is this a sign that I am really getting old? As I remember these 2 lines from a Jennie Joseph poem:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.

I used to find this funny ... actually I still find this funny.

Done with the Bowtie Scarves

Flash back ... 3 weeks ago I wandered into Ei's blog and got lucky. She was giving away patterns of these beautiful fingerless gloves:

Besides the pattern, she also sent a signature card of hers. Thanks, Ei. In return, I made her a crocheted flower pin, using the leftovers from the Mystery Kit ... since she said she liked orange and that was the closest to orange I got in my stash. I am glad that she likes it.

Back to my knitting. I finally finished the 2 bowtie scarves for my parents! Perhaps you would expect photos of the neatly finished projects, but instead I am going to post this:

At first glance, you may not be able to spot anything special about it. But what about if I tell you I just used two and a half balls of yarns for this scarf and I knitted with 2 strands throughout? Exactly ... why are there so many loose ends? I have bought yarns from Elann a few times and I have always been happy with their products. However, I think I am quite disappointed this time. One of the Baby Cashmere in Pewter had an unbelievably number of knots. At first I tried to ignore them and just knitted on. However, I learned an important lesson here - if something doesn't look right at first, it won't become better ... it would only grow into an even bigger eyesore, so frog it if you don't like it. I was lucky that I spotted how to make Russian join from another knitter's blog (sorry that I forgot whose!), thus I don't have to tie knots all over the tiny scarf.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Scarf, Scarf ... and more to come

I swear I am not going to knit Windy City Scarf anymore for at least another 6 months! In 2 months' time, I finished 4 ... yeah, 4 ... such scarves. So, I think I deserve a break!

Well, to be honest, starting from the second one, this pattern is not challenging anymore. However, I do like the feeling of the rib stitch pattern. The scarf feels thick and cozy. My only worry is that my GMIL is really petite and the scarf may be really too long for her. Now, I just have to crochet some more of those flower pins, and then I can send them all to France.

Then it would be the scarves for my parents. For these, I have changed my mind so many times. At first, I found the seaman's scarf and really like it. As a matter of fact, I bought the yarns, Peruvian Collection Baby Cashmere, based on this pattern. Then, gradually realizing that I might not have too much time, I resolved to use the fingering yarns to knit another 2 Windy City Scarves. This is of course not a very welcoming thought. So, I kept on searching and ... I found this. The Bowtie scarf is just perfect for me - the garter stitch is quick and easy and it is a new pattern for me. I just double the yarns and use US5 needle.

I am now comfortably confident I can finish the scarves for my parents before Chinese New Year. I hope this would bring them a nice surprise. They have no idea I have taken up knitting again. I have sent them the picture of my MIL wearing the scarf, but I didn't tell them I knitted it.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Inauguration Day

Update: Since I don't think I would like to have his photo kept permenantly on my blog, it's been deleted. But if by now you still haven't seen the mosaic and would like to, please click on "War President", Mosaic of fallen U.S. soldiers, created by the American Leftist

Anthem For Doomed Youth
Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Flower Fever

It seems once started, it cannot stop. I am talking about the crocheted flower pins. Thanks to Christinac from KR Forum, I have collected a number of crochet patterns on flowers. I used the leftover yarns and tried most of them. So far, the one I mentioned in Flower Power is the most satisfactory to me.

Ever since I saw this new yarn, I was eager to try it. So, I bought one yesterday and tried it with the crochet pattern. It turned out that the yarn was really bulky and I just made 29 chains and already got a gigantic rose! You can take a look at the picture:

I have a big head ... and you see how big the flower is on my hat? I hope taking the picture under broad day light can show the true texture of the yarn. It feels really soft in the hand. I am just wondering what the difference is between suede and chenille. To me, they both feel the same.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Flower Power

I have put the sweater and the blue afghan on hold for a while because I want to make some scarves for all the senior members in our families. For the in-laws, I don't want to create a feeling of favouritism, so I decided to use the same yarns as the scarf of my MIL - main colour in red for GMIL and green for AIL. However, when I brought the yarns home, Husband said that Sassy Stripes Stormy was not really green. So, I brought them back to the store to exchange for some Lion Brand Wool-Ease in Pines. I knitted up the scarf in Wool-Ease really fast but: 1) the green with black was too dark ... just too dark ... one would easily confuse it as black; 2) it doesn't feel as smooth as it does in a ball. Thus, I have to change back to Sassy Stripes. For the Wool-Ease scarf, if I have the time, I would frog it and knit a blanket for shelter animals; otherwise, I would just have to give it away for charity.

This was why I was feeling a bit beaten up yesterday. I had to do something to divert my attention from the dark green scarf and to boost my mood. This was what I did:

What do you think? I used the leftovers from MIL's scarf and this crochet pattern and made 2 of these flower pins. The result was surprisingly good to me.

Poems to share

I stumbled on these two poems of D.H. Lawrence which I read for the first time on this site:

To Women, As Far As I'm Concerned

The feelings I don't have I don't have.
The feelings I don't have, I won't say I have.
The feelings you say you have, you don't have.
The feelings you would like us both to have, we
neither of us have.
The feelings people ought to have, they never have.
If people say they've got feelings, you may be pretty
sure they haven't got them
So if you want either of us to feel anything at all
you'd better abandon all idea of feelings altogether.


Don't you care for my love? she said bitterly.

I handed her the mirror, and said:
Please address these questions to the proper person!
Please make all request to head-quarters!
In all matters of emotional importance
please approach the supreme authority direct!--
So I handed her the mirror.

And she would have borken it over my head,
but she caught sight of her own refection
and that held her spellbound for two seconds
while I fled.

I found them extremely humourous and have to share them with you. I must admit I am a lucky woman - I never feel the need to ask Husband the question in "Intimates". But I am not sure what I would do if in case I do ask the question and he hands me the mirror!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Hand-knitted Socks ... Finally!

I finally finished my first pair of socks. They are not fancy, just plain basic stocking stitch; but they are special because they are the first ... and deserve Husband modelling them in lots of pictures!!!

It was a bit nerve-wracking at the end, though. Since they are a bit long on the leg sections, I was afraid I would run out of yarn. I was even ready to frog the swatch if necessary. Luckily that need didn't arise. Actually, I have quite some yarns remained for later use.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Mystery Object Felted!

Due to a technical problem, I couldn't do the felting until the day before yesterday. At first, I tried to do it manually in the water basin. However, it seems without the action of the washing machine, the wool wouldn't felt ... or maybe it would have taken a much longer time. Finally, I had to go back to the machine.
It was fun watching how the texture of the finished object changed. It took me 4 2-minute washing sessions to make it fit. I now understand why some knitters are so crazy about felting. Felted wool feels lovely in the hand. Now I am much more motivated to make a felted bag later.
Since I don't want to be a spoiler, if you want to know what the object is, click here.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Sweater Progress

Well, I finally had the shell of the sweater off the needles. For the sleeves, I am now up to the cuffs. To avoid the possibility of them being of different lengths, I knit them at the same time. The front and the back are in the last stage of blocking. I didn't have much confidence in submerging the whole pieces in water, so I chose to spray water over them.

I don't know if it was my own illusion or what ... since the yarns I used for the back (the left in the pic) have been frogged, I always feel that the pattern on the back is not as well defined as that on the front. I just hope blocking would help the wool to relax and bounce back to its original state. So, I sprayed over the pieces, let them dry a bit and then repeat again. After seveal hours, when they were quite dry already, I used a steam iron to hover over the pattern. I am not sure if this helps. Keep my fingers crossed.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

First Sock Finished

Some of you may expect to see a pair of socks, but I have just finished one ...

I asked Husband to try it on and nervously awaited his comment ... "It's comfortable ... you know, like those white sports socks that I like so much." Wow ... that's really great pump in my confidence, I'm not kidding you. And now I am working hard on the other one of the pair.

This first sock knitting has been a very inspiring experience. When I came to the heel flap then into the heel turning and the gussets, I couldn't help but admire the collective intelligence and creativity of the human mind: with some simple twists and turns, it can manoeuver a single thread into something that can embody the curves of the human foot. Attention is even paid to the extra need for wearing and comfort in the heel flap. Even Husband agrees there is so much magic in the art of knitting.

Now that I have tried using DPNs in knitting socks, I will explore other methods in my next pair. I have done my research on the internet and decided on trying out the 2 circular method. I figure that now is the time to knit something for the warmer season to come, so I will use the Cascade Fixation I bought. Since I have a US3 circular, plus the one in the Needlemaster set, I don't need to buy new needles. I can start right off after this pair. Sounds good to me.

Tree of Hope

It was our 3rd anniversary yesterday. We are both "home-animals" and usually would prefer to celebrate having dinner at home. However, it was also Husband's company annual dinner last night. So, we had to celebrate with the whole company (without their knowing, of course!) It was all that usual stuff ... *"Nice to meet you!" followed by a 3-second embarrassing silence ... Repeat pattern from * until dinner start. The appetizers were delicious, though; especially the roasted vegetables.

What was unexpectedly good was the magic show. When we went to Maui during Thanksgiving last November, we watched Warren and Annabel and it was fantastic. Every Maui guide we read recommended this show, saying it was the best. We were lucky to have the front row seats and it was just an amazingly enchanting evening. So, I didn't expect too much from the magician last night. But it turned out he was witty, funny and humorous and he certainly made the evening a memorable one.

Since the magician attracted us to stay longer than we expected, we didn't get to share the galette des rois with our friends. This is an off-focus photo of the 2005 King's cake:

It is a pity that you can't see my decorative drawing on it. I should have cut deeper with the knife but I was afraid I would cut through all the way into the filling. I drew a tree on it ... it was a tree of hope. For some reasons, I was not too thrilled about 2005. I didn't really feel excited about its coming. I remember last time I experienced such emotional impasse was in 1989, after the June Fourth Incident in Beijing. I found it ridiculous that I should celebrate my own birthday when so many parents lost their kids and so many young people were forced to leave their own country. And now, I, in a way witnessed the greatest natural disaster ever in my life time, just wish this tree can bring those who survived the fatal tsunami some hope in 2005.

Friday, January 07, 2005

I am Hufflepuff!

Which Hogwarts house will you be sorted into?

Well, I love all the Harry Porter movies but for the books ... sorry, I haven't read a word of them. Now it just seems that I don't have time to read at all! Got to figure out a way in which I can knit and read at the same time. Or am I just too greedy?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

First FO of 2005

Is it a hat?

Voila! This is my first FO of year 2005. Well, not 100% finished ... I need to do the felting tomorrow. But as you can see, the knitting of Mystery Kit #3 is done. So, what is it? Remember, it is supposed to be a felted project, so this means it will shrink in size. By the time the felting is done, I would not be able to fit my big head into it anymore. So, I took the opportunity and snapped a shot of it on my head. Stay tuned for pictures of the real FO.

Galette des Rois

Today is Epiphany. If you read blogs of people living in France, you'd have already known that Galette des rois (Kings' cake) is the main thing for the day. Husband said that nobody made the cake themselves in France (but maybe he is wrong!); they just bought it from the neighbourhood bakery. *Sigh* This always makes me so eager to visit France ... the pastry from the neighbourhood bakery! As you can imagine, you won't find anything close to it here, so we have to make our own. Lucky that it is not really difficult ... there are tons of recipes on the internet. We would have the cake in the coming weekend with friends and I will be the one deciding where to put the feve ... since I am the one baking the cake ... hahaha! For now, I can only show you the one I made in 2003.

Galette des rois

It was actually my first production ... so it was a bit primitive. This year, maybe I would try to be a bit more decorative with the drawing (with a knife) on the top.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Reconnecting with Nature

In the past few days, I've been cramming myself with news from the tsunami-hit areas - watching CNN, listening to the radio while driving, googling on the internet. Amid the heartbreaking stories here and there, there are a few news articles that caught my, as well as many others, attention. In "Elephant heroes in tsunami disaster", the animals' unusual behaviour saved many lives. In "Tsunamis Kill People In Sri Lanka, But Not Animals" and "How animals escaped the Wave", it was reported that the majority of the animals in the catastrophic areas were able to escape from the fatal tsunami. It seems that we are faced with the undeniable truth: no matter how advanced our technology is, we human beings need to re-establish our ties with Nature and to re-nurture our senses as animals.

It is a co-incidence that the book I am reading, Cosmo Doogood's Urban Almanac for the year 2005, has a subtitle that reads "Celebrating Nature & Her Rhythms in the City". In the introduction, the editor said that in order to reconnect with Nature and Her rhythms, urbanites have to "look up (at the sky and the weather), look out (and connect with the environment we are living in as well as with other fellow human beings) and look in (and be aware of our own physical rhythms and their relationship with that around us)".

Actually, I started putting this into action on New Year's Day. I took a 10-minute walk in my neighbourhood, taking my camera with me. I have had the idea of a photograhic project in my mind for over a year. And on the first day of 2005, I started working on it. It may take several months to see if the idea would work out. But for now, let's remember to look up, look out and look in.

Back on the knitting track

Ever since I set up this blog, I've been furiously doing renovations to it. It is like when you move into a new house and you start decorating it in the way that suits and pleases you. I visited others' blogs, getting ideas from them; then obtained the codes for the various fun stuff and tried them out in my draftblog; if they work out well, I would then move them to this blog. By now, I would say I have done 95% of the changes I would like to achieve. So, it's time to go back to my knitting.

The Blue Afghan
I know ... I was just being lazy with the swatching. I used US7 and then US6 to swatch. The one you saw earlier was the US6 and it was way more than 4" wide. So, I frogged the half block I made and started all over again. This time I used US5 and it was the right one. I am now into the third block already!

As you can see, I attempted a different method this time. Since I want to minimize the amount of sewing I'll have to do, instead of binding off one block, I changed into the different colour and continue into the next block. The result is I'll be knitting 5 long stripes to be sewn up lengthwise.
There are a total of 10 patterns. I am not a veteran knitter, so I don't really know how the patterns look like just by reading the instructions. This adds to the fun and excitement. The first block has been a pretty boring ribbing pattern. However, the eyelet and the cable are so exciting, especially when I am now reading Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting. The intricacy of the patterns is just fascinating to me.

The Guernsey Sweater
I am now into 17" of the front ... 7" more and I can start shaping the neck. I plan to block the back and the front together as this will save time and space. I am indeed very eager to finish this sweater as then I can start the tank tops for summer!

First Socks

Well, it seems I cannot escape the fate of first-time sock-knitters - LADDERS! I have already pulled the yarn much tighter at the changing from one needle to another ... but they are still so obviously there! I do comfort myself by thinking that this is my first pair ... so keep trying.
Yet, I found this Sock Fever page which offers some very good advice and patterns for socks. There is even a section called "Sock Class". I am also thinking maybe I should get the Magic Loop booklet ... it was said that using 2 circular needles for socks can avoid getting ladders.

Mystery Kit #3
Finally, it comes to the Mystery Kit. I gained good progress on this one. Right now, I can say I am approaching the last phase. Can you tell what it is?