Sunday, February 27, 2005

From skiing to wave-watching

The original plan was to spend the week of Presidents' Day in South Lake Tahoe skiing. What really happened was Husband still going to work that week despite the fact that it was supposed to be his company's closing week (meaning everyone has to take a week's holidays). There were some urgent issues he and his team had to deal with concerning his project, which is very important to him. So, we have to postpone the skiing plan until we-don't-know-when.

Since it was quite a disappointment to me, he would like to take me out to do something. There was a brief break in the weather on Friday and yesterday. There was not an awful lot of sunshine but at least it didn't rain. We found ourselves hopped into our Explorer and headed towards Half Moon Bay.

We didn't take Highway 280 all the way to our destination. We took the exit to Portola Valley and soon we were climbing up the mountain on a narrow road called King's Mountain Road. When I say narrow, it is really narrow. I guess our Explorer would be the biggest vehicle the lane can accommodate. If you drive a Hummer, most probably you would have to cross two lanes. The ride up the mountains was a bit nerve-wracking to us. At some point, I found myself looking over the steep mountain cliff into the valley below ... feeling as if the passenger side of the car is just hanging over air. But the view is spectacular!

After King's Mountain Road, we turned into Highway 35. The speed limit here was 50 but there was very little traffic. Besides, the road conditions were surprisingly good - newly paved, no bumps or holes and wide enough. Husband said this highway was perfect for people who enjoy driving sports cars. Actually, we encountered several on the way ... Porche Carrera and Corvette. I had a feeling that we would come again when Husband's car arrives in April.

After the ride on Highway 35, we turned into 95 towards Half Moon Bay. The real destination of our trip was Maverick's. Husband is not an avid surfer; but he loves watching the waves, whose power can always elicit his respect for Nature. As a city girl, I didn't have too much experience dealing with the sea (it is really a hassle going to the beaches if you don't drive in Hong Kong); but I do love listening to the mesmerizing sound of waves breaking the shore. During our vacations in Hawaii, we spent quite a lot of time seeking the big waves. The general sea conditions were quite calm yesterday. Yet, we could immediately understand how Maverick's got its reputation. At that particular part of the sea, the waves were especially strong and powerful. We were not alone ... there were quite a number of people spending their weekend watching the waves.

The temperature yesterday was not too low, but with the winds constantly blowing against my face, I was glad that I worn my Wavy. As usual, Husband's ears got really stiff and cold though on the whole he didn't feel very cold. He always rejected my suggestion of knitting him a pair of ear muffs. But I think he would only appreciate them when he knows what difference they make. Mmm ... maybe I should go ahead and look for the pattern on the web.

Another self-discovery

Knitting is an interesting hobby which allows one to learn so much about oneself. After several months' knitting experiences, I made another discovery. I am a person who thrives with positive encouragement and achievement and will easily be dampened by failure. You may say everybody is like that ... but no, there are people who have unwavering spirits and failures will only stimulate them to move forward. But this is not me.

After the last post, I continued with Prairie, thinking that I would finish the back real soon. With 6 more rows to complete the braid pattern, I found that I missed one very important detail in the shaping - the armholes! I should have started the shaping of the armholes as soon as I started the braid pattern. Okay, that was fine ... I ripped the beautifully knitted braid pattern and started again. Now, the pattern was complete and I was actually on my way to shape the neckline and shoulder. Measuring the piece against myself, I felt that something was not right. So, I took out a shop-bought summer tank that fits me well as the control and my suspicion was confirmed. If I continued to shape the neck in the way I was doing, I would end up with extremely large armholes. If you want to know how I felt, think of the Dow Jones Index plummeting to below 5,000 from the closing 10,841.60 of Friday! That was how I felt! I have already ripped 34 rows and knitted back to the whole braid pattern. That was about all I could take in one day. So, I left it that way.

My hands may have stopped, but my mind has been real active thinking how to remedy the piece. Either it was the pattern instructions that messed up or I misunderstood them ... but I tend to believe in the former. I have come up with several options, all of which involve recalculation and changing of the original pattern. This is going to be a big challenge to me. Just like Wavy and the 63-square crocheting project, I don't think I have the mood to do it right now. I'll have to let it sit for a while before my spirit can be nurtured back to take it up again.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

What have you been knitting lately?

I have stalled the blue afghan for some time. Why? It's mainly because of the "cheerio" piece. The pattern is cute like having strings of cheerios, but it is extremely painful to knit - 7 columns of 2-stitch cable patterns! Yet, finally I have overcome the hurdle and moved into the last piece of the first column. (There are 30 [6 x 5] pieces making up the whole afghan and I am knitting 6 pieces in one column without breaking to minimize the amount of sewing up) Four more to go and I can have my second afghan done.

Among the 6 patterns I have done so far, I like this one most. The reason that I am not too happy with what I've done is that I should have twisted the cable in the last row. Now it just doesn't look so right to me.

Well, the afghan is not the only project being put aside. Do you remember the "Pretty Comfy Socks"? I am still working on the first one. The pattern calls for short-row heel and I found it a bit confusing at the beginning. But with some frogging and researching on the internet, I am almost approaching the toe now:

It seems that I still have a lot of yarn in the first ball ... definitely more than enough to finish the first sock.

As for the cotton tank, I am half way through the braid pattern on the back:

I have struggled for a while, thinking it was a bit strange to have a braid pattern on the back. But the fact is I love doing cables and braids.

I have also added 2 new crochet projects. One is a hat for my niece's birthday. If I have the time, I may also make her a bag. The other one is a skinny scarf for myself. Surprising, isn't it? I told Siow Chin not long ago that I had to take a break from scarves, yet here I am making another one. But this one is different, though. I think I would like to have a scarf for summer night out ... one that is solely decorative in purpose, without any "substance". Thus, novelty yarn is the perfect choice. Another surprise, huh? Yeah, I hate working with novelty yarn. For this one, it's a ladder yarn ... which doesn't help to make me like it. I have to chain 3 times before I can figure out how to get the stitches. However, the scarf looks quite beautiful:

It's gadgets time!

To tell you more about my cheap-ass style, I have been using a white kitty pouch (which I brought with me from Hong Kong) to store my knitting and crocheting notions. However, it didn't take me too long to realize its "shortcoming" - being too short!

So I ended up having to use another plastic pouch (which I didn't buy, of course! It was the package bag of something-I-forgot-what.) for long stuff like the gauge ruler and the extra circular needles. It has been going like this for several months ... until yesterday when I went shopping in Marshalls and found this:

I almost said "PERFECT!" to myself aloud in the store. It is long enough for almost every long item I got and it is transparent - very convenient when you are desperately looking for some small items like row-counter or cable needle while holding the project. The travel size shower gel and lotion are good for my up-coming trips to the Sierra. Can you believe I can put all these stuff inside?

No? Let's see.

Monday, February 21, 2005

What's in the mail?

Look what I received in the mail:

It was a Chinese New Year card from my parents and also red packets for us. Red is a lucky colour for Chinese, who happen to be a very superstitious people. So, during times of celebration, all you get is red. If you want to know more about the Chinese traditions, you can go and read Siow Chin's and letti's blogs.

I know the red packets are just kind of symbolic. I have long outgrown the teenage desire and expectation to get big bucks from red packets. But I certainly didn't expect my parents to give me Monopoly-like toy money! Bug Eyed Yeah, that was my thought when I opened the red packets and saw these:

These are real bank-issued Hong Kong dollar notes. But you have to excuse my ignorance. I came to the States in 2001 and these were first issued in 2002. The 10-dollar notes I knew were like these:

So, you see why I was so surprised.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

New Look

To celebrate hitting 5000, I created a new look for my blog. How do you like it? I've always wanted to use sunflowers as the theme. Among the templates provided by Blogger, there is none that is close to what I really want. Now, I got the background graphic from this site.

Besides, I also managed to create a button of my own from the above site:

The button maker is extremely easy to use and I had a lot of fun doing that. I am planning to make more.

Friday, February 18, 2005

Hitting 5000!

Wow ... the counter of my blog hit 5000 I don't know when (most probably this morning). Well, I know I myself contributed a lot to this during the process of posting and previewing and changing the template, but still it is something to me! Rocking Happy

I've been having a lot of random thoughts lately, which I know I should have put them down. A few nights ago, we watched Troy again (this is the third time, to be honest!) and this from Odysseus is still lingering in my mind:

War is young men dying, old men talking.

I think what makes me feel sad is the stark truth in what he said.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Here I present ... Miss Wavy!

After letting her sit over for the weekend, I finally managed to locate where I went wrong with the help of knit-chick's schematic chart. Then it was smooth as a breeze.

One thing worth noting is the binding off. There has been a discussion in the KR Forum on how to prevent the end of a scarf from being much wider than the beginning. I must confess this was what had been bugging me while I were knitting the Windy City Scarves. I learned a technique which is very simple, yet very useful - use a smaller needle to bind off! This is just common good sense and yet I didn't think of it before! So, with Wavy, I started switching to US6 at row 44 of the last pattern repeat and then bound off. Now can you tell which is head and which is tail?

Not too difficult, I suppose. Now, let's find out if the smaller needle can really do the trick. Not too bad, huh?

At first, I thought the waves were not very smooth as they turned out, so I planned to wash it to see if they would get better. But now, I think I'll just let it be. Too lazy, you know. I love the colour and I love the pattern. I think it would be a fun scarf to wear.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Frogged some ... crocheted some ... and knitted some ...

There is an old Chinese saying that says if you rush, you'll never get the work done. Why? Because you would MAKE MISTAKES! This was what happened over the weekend.

When I finished the 8th pattern repeat of the Wavy, I was feeling really uplifted, pretty sure that I could easily finish the remaining 88 rows. So, I picked up my speed but at the same time, losing some concentration by blog-surfing on Blog Clicker. Suddenly, I checked on the scarf and saw this:

Obviously, I had forgotten to change direction of the waves. So, I would have to frog it (which is the easy part) and figure out which row I started making the mistake (and this is the hard part).

With the intention of doing something different, I went back to the 63-square crocheting project. Successfully I finished Square #5 (but I forgot to take picture of it!) Then I moved on to Square #8, which seemed to be a fairly easy one. But of course I was wrong! I had to frog twice ... but still couldn't finish because what I got was simply not right:

As you can see, the chevron pattern should move back up smoothly, but mine is way off!

I didn't think I should end the weekend with this frustrated feelings. So, again, I picked up something else. In the latest issue of Crochet Me, there is a pattern for a book thong by Donna which I like very much. I already got the size 10 thread, steel hook and beads ready. So, I started and made this:

It is really easy to make and the instructions are clear to follow. The only problem for me is the tiny little thread! Also, making 150 chains will get you a book thong that is long enough for big pattern books like the ones in the picture. If you want one for, say a small paperback, perhaps you should only make 90 chains.

As I was switching into a better mood, I started casting on for my first summer tank. I know it is still chilly out there. But when I finish, I think it would be the right time for some summer wear. Oh, BTW, the photo under the book thong is the one I am making. I made some good progress on this:

It is not easy knitting with cotton. I did make some loops, but luckily they are all on the wrong side. Because of the complicated fancy pattern, I decided to leave the loops as they are as long as they are on the wrong side. The knitting ER technique is easy only on stockinette-stitched pattern. At least for me.

Before I end this post, wish you all a happy Valentine's Day!

Tagged ... again ...

This time it was about TV and it was Lu who tagged me back. Nice going, Lu!

1. How much space is left on your TiVO or Camcast box?
Ooops ... I don't have TiVo. Camcast box? What is that?

2. Have you ever bought a DVD of a TV series and if so which one?
Married with Children Season 1 and 2. Avengers and New Avengers (too many sets). Black Adder

3. What was the last TV show you watched before reading this message?
Montel (Yeah ... I watch Montel ... :))

5. List five TV shows you won't miss.
Winter X-game
American Idol
Real Time with Bill Mahr
American Chopper
Great Biker Build-Off

5. Name 3 people you will pass the stick.
Karen , Eilene and Tony (this time I tag him first ... hahaha)

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Barnyard Guernsey Sweater

It is no more Husband's sweater ... it has become mine now. It was my fault actually. I made the first and foremost mistake mentioned in Men in Knits - I didn't involve him in the decision making process. All along he thought I was knitting a sweater for myself. When I finished and told him it was for him, he was really surprised and said, "Don't you think it is a bit too feminine for me?" Well, at least he had the courtesy to try it on ... and it convinced me that he was right! Lucky is that Husband is not a very big man, and I am not a very small woman. So, here I am wearing the a-little-bit-oversize sweater:

At least I like the pattern a lot. I think it shows very well in the picture. Besides, I got the size right for him ... it fits well.

So, I asked him what he would like. He said that something without any pattern in rope would be good. Rope? The first thought coming to my mind was "Great, I can knit him something in Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton!" That is the most "rope"-like yarn I can think of. It seems I need to look for some cotton-wool blend that is not too fuzzy.

Now, I have another problem ... well, to be exact, something to consider. I bought the yarns based on a crochet pattern. As we all know, crocheting uses much more yarns than knitting. So, now I have 11 balls of leftover. I have thought for a long time how to deal with them. Finally, I got an idea. This would mean I need to pick up yarns of a different colour. I am leaning towards the talk of the town - KnitPicks' Wool of the Andes - because of the price and the good reviews it has received.

Stitches West 2005

I didn't take any class but I did go to the Marketplace yesterday afternoon. The Convention Centre is just around the corner from Husband's company. So, after dropping him off at work, I drove straight to the exhibition hall.
Since it was a Friday afternoon, the heaviest traffic had yet to come. (Can't imagine what it would be like this afternoon!) I think I am a really cheap-ass! Right off, I didn't bring any cash at all ... okay, just had 20 bucks with me. I think most of the booths didn't accept debit card ... at least this was what I told myself!!! Actually, I didn't intend to buy any yarns here. My first and foremost purpose for going to the Marketplace was to touch the yarns ... to feel them in my hands. This is what I can't do with online shops. My greatest achievement of the day is Berroco Suede. I didn't only get to touch the yarn, but also some finished objects made out of it. I am now certain that I would like to make Sonnet using Berroco Suede. I also got to touch some Jo Sharp DK and Debbie Bliss, Opal and Lana Grossa sock yarns ... not bad at all!
There were also lots of books and patterns. It wasn't worth buying books, except for back issues of magazines, there as the prices were standard marked ones. I picked up a copy of IK Fall 2003. Buying it there saved me the postage. I was hoping to find the latest Rebecca but was in vain.
I have a 2-day pass. I intend to go back tomorrow morning and browse through the Rowan pattern books again. Then I would also have my subscription to IK there. So far, this is the only magazine that I would like to have regularly.
If you can't come to the event in person, go and read Jen-La's blog entries ... they are hilarious! I especially enjoy the “There’s One in Every Class” list ... which is so documentarily (okay, I admit I made this word up!) true.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Hey! Somebody jumped the line!

I was supposed to be finishing the sweater. Yet, I was distracted. This was what happened.

Do you remember this? In case you don't, it was from knit.1 magazine. I like it a lot. I think it is very beautiful. It only called for 3 balls of Jiffy, so I thought it wasn't worth getting the yarns online. However, I had a hard time finding the right colour for it in Michael's or Jo-Ann ... baby colours are not good choices and the greens and blues they usually carry are not good match of the style. Then one day, I discovered this:

The plum in the model is too feminine. This variegated El Paso is just perfect. So, in 2 days' time, the yarns became this:

I found that having ruffles just on the upper corner was even better than all over the front. If you click to see the larger photo, you would see that the opening of the purse tends to curl outward. Therefore, I hemmed along the edge, thus making it look neater. You can have a look at the finished object here.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I've been tagged!

1. Total amount of music files on your computer
A lot ... never really count ... maybe 400?
2. The last CD you bought
I haven't bought any CD since I came to the States.
3. The last song you listened to before reading this message
Barber's Adagio for Strings (William Orbit) ... this is a techno song I got from Husband ... it is just really beautiful.
4. Name 5 songs you listen to often or that mean a lot to you
1. All Bee Gees songs (can't help it ... just love them!) 2. You are the sunshine of my life (Stevie Wonder) 3. Thin line between love and hate (Annie Lennox) 4. Fragile (Sting) 5. Stardust (Nat King Cole)
5. Who will you pass this stick to (3 people) and why?
I don't know ... I am wondering how to tag people. If I figure that out, then it would be letti (My Adventures in the US of A) ... she's a lovely bride-to-be that I met through Blog Clicker. Then it would be Lu (Maglia!) ... she is a knitholic and blogholic ... I don't know how she knits so fast. Last would be Antz or Tony (The Daily Blog) ... he asked me to tag him on my tagboard, but as I say, I have no idea what it was about ... so if I get to know, I would tag him.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Kung Hey Fat Choy

This is a transcription of the Cantonese expression meaning "Wish You Great Wealth in the New Year". In Asia, their time is ahead of us here in the US, so they are celebrating the New Year of the Rooster today. I have marked on my calendar to call my parents this afternoon. On New Year's Day, first thing for young people to do is to get neat and tidy and say blessings to the seniors in the family.

My parents called me last week to tell me they received the scarves. A sharp contrast to Husband's family, my parents are always subtle with their feelings, as most Chinese parents are. But I could hear from their voices that they were very happy with the presents. My father wondered when I learned to knit. My mother told him that I learned years (lots of years ... hahaha) ago and that I actually knitted a sweater for him. Wait a minute ... really? I must have amnesia then. I have no memory of any of that! I am thinking where the sweater is now!

My friend Esther called me last night and we had a long chat on the phone. I haven't talked in Cantonese for this long for a long long time and so I felt I had lost some of the sharpness in my own mother tongue! Mmmm ... have to practise on that.

About my knitting ... I am sewing up the guernsey sweater and it is looking good. I will show you pictures once it is ready. For Wavy, I am half way through it. We may go skiing during the week of Presidents' Day. So, I hope I can finish it in time for use in the Sierra ... yay!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

New socks

I started my second pair of socks last night. I am still using DPNs knitting from cuff down because I would like to try out the Cascade Fixation and I really love this pattern. As I don't think I am good enough to adapt the pattern into 2 circular needles and knit from toe up, I guess I have to be content with what I am doing now! So far, I have completed one set of the pattern:

How do you like it? Personally, I love the feeling of the yarn being knitted up. I think it would be very comfortable to wear. I would also like to show off to you the beautiful blue-beaded stitch marker, which I made myself! I never thought I would be so crafty, hahaha!

And I Crochet too ...

Yeah, after the successful try at the crocheted flower pins, I seemed to have regained some confidence at crocheting. Some time ago, I saw this beautiful pattern in Jo-Ann's. I think this would be a good way to really start learning to crochet. Then, I discovered this amazing crocheting community, Crochetville. With political and religious topics not allowed there, I find that it has a much more friendly and welcoming atmosphere. I joined the 63-squares crochet-along and people there did teach me a couple of things. The most important thing is that I came to realize in crocheting, even an experienced crocheter may have to crochet and frog numerous times in order to get the right gauge. This helps me to be more patient in trying to find the right hook for my project.

I like the colour combination of the original pattern, so I am going to stick to that. These are the colours I have chosen for my squares:

So far, I have completed 6 squarea already ... pretty impressive to myself. Here they are:

I need to rework on the borders of the 2 squares in yellow with a different hook so that they would be of the same size as the others. Don't you think they are pretty?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Knitting ER

It was sooner than I expected. I have finished the 2 sleeves of the sweater. While I was bathing in the satisfying feeling of accomplishment ... AARGH! What was that?

It was a stitch where I just picked up one ply, leaving a big loop on the right side of the sleeve. This happened from time to time but I usually managed to notice it before going on too far. However, this time I have already finished the whole thing. My first reaction was to let it be. Yet, the lesson of eyesore immediately popped into my mind. I knew I had to repair this.

So, first I slid back the needle into the last row of stitches up to the position just above the loop.

Then, I undid the column of stitches down to the loop:

I just felt lucky that I bought those elastic stitch holders last week in The Knitting Room. They just came in handy now. Next, I used a crochet hook to pick up the stitiches back to the top:

I had to pull the yarn a bit tightly so that the column wouldn't become a ladder after I finished. Voila ... can you find the loop now?

Tomorrow I can start blocking them.