Sunday, August 28, 2005

Even Mama can't recognize me! (Updated)

This was an expression we loved to use while in college. Whenever we experienced some extreme emotions that made us very much different from our normal usual selves, we said even our mamas couldn't recognize us. And I believe I was so stoned tired yesterday when I arrived home that my mama sure wouldn't recognize me!

After having lived in a Californian suburban city for 4 years, I have forgotten how crowded, noisy and dirty a big city can be. A trip to San Francisco brought all these sensations back from memory to live. All the people flowing from nowhere into the streets; the endless sirens of cop cars, fire engines and paramedic ambulances; the deafening drills from road work; the distinct smell of exhaust that just won't go away ... all these make San Francisco amazingly similar to the Hong Kong I remember! I don't go to the big city very often ... but I can't deny that it is a beautiful and fun place:

After spending half a day there, my senses were so bombarded that I was simply too tired to knit on the train!

Then yesterday was another autocross day. If you think you are going to see some knitting pictured on mini cones, I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. Not only did I not have time to knit, I didn't even have time for any photos. But it was the most fun time I had ... this time I was the co-pilot for Husband! Yes, I put on a helmet and went on the car with him ... and boy, was it exciting? You bet ... I fully understand the addictive adrenaline rush a car racer would experience! But it was not only this. When Husband got the time of less than 45 seconds for a run, we were both exclaiming, laughing and shouting like 2 mad persons ... he got an almost 5 seconds improvement from the first run of the day! He said that if I wanted to, he could get an old stick shift car for me to learn how to drive! And then I can take part in the autocross too! I am just afraid that I would love that too much!

I was so exhausted when we got home yesterday evening that I just fell asleep on the sofa ... not even changing my clothes! The rest of the evening passed in oblivion ... I believed I did make something to eat ... and then not much to remember!

After one night's rest, I managed to get some knitting done today. I am on the sleeve island right now and I hope I won't be stranded here for too long! I am knitting both sleeves of the Sirdar sweater at the same time. Though in plain stocking stitch, I managed to get 8 inches of both done. Actually, I can join the shoulders and work on the neck band if I get bored with the sleeves. Hopefully, the sweater would be an FO next week!

Update: Ruth tagged me for the 5th sentence of my 23rd post ... I found it, but it was not written by myself. Anyway, it is "Go visit your old friend's grave in a medeivel chapel." Weird, huh?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Getting ready for the big city

I received a reply from Rowan, saying that there is no bead on the shawl itself. This means the River can keep on flowing! Actually, I am not sure if I would knit the knot for the shawl ...

Last time, I said I didn't know what "lace method" cast on was. The very kind and helpful Debi taught me how to do it in her comment. The River KAL hostess Jody also post a link to a tutorial page. Thanks both of you. BTW, Debi also has a very detailed tutorial on how to knit with beads without pre-threading the beads. If you are interested, hop over to her blog and check out the August 12 post.

As of the time when I was writing this post, I had finished the front of the Sirdar sweater ... YAY! I am sure you can all imagine how exciting a picture of a deep blue sweater front of 95% stocking stitch would be ... so I spare you of it!

I would not be able to post until Sunday. Tomorrow I would take a train ride to the big city (San Francisco) to meet a past student visiting here. I think I would knit the sleeves during the rides. I do look forward to the meeting as we haven't seen each other for a full 4 years! Besides, I think I would be able to get some good city shots for my photoblog. Then, tomorrow evening, Husband and I would drive down to Marina for another autocross on Saturday. But I am not as lucky as many of you who can knit while the husbands are driving during road trips. Husband is a very cautious person ... therefore, no knitting needles in the front seat. But still I would bring the sleeves along with me.

No progress on River, no progress on Bomber, so I can only end this post with pictures of Husband modelling his Rib Socks for you:

Note: He was watching some Fight-Club-style fighting show on TV ... AND the fighter he likes was on the verge of losing, so it was impossible to get a standing modelling shot. When I asked for a different pose, he gave me this:

But at least it shows the socks fit! LOL!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Karabella River

So everyone is talking about how disappointed they are with Rowan 38. Maybe it is my first time getting the magazine in the mail, I quite enjoy reading through it ... or maybe it is because of this:

no no no ... not the model, not the vest, but the background floral wallpaper. It reminds me of my grandfather's (mother's side) home. It was a pre-WWII building in Hong Kong and the walls were covered with gift wrapping papers (yes, you read it right!) with patterns of roses and peonies (popular in the 60s) ... similar to those you see in the Rowan pic. I had spent a lot of my childhood in that home, spending holidays with my grandfather. Now the building has been demolished to give way to newer taller buildings and my grandfather was long gone, this photo suddenly brought back a lot of memories.

There are a couple of things I'd like to make from the magazine. I would include Pandora if it doesn't require 2 different yarns ... which is something I don't really like. But availability of yarn in the stash very often determines my readiness to start a project. So, using the Karabella lace mohair I have, I cast on for River the past weekend. Now, I am at the 3rd pattern repeat:

It is interesting that I didn't see the pattern very clearly just by holding up the piece ... until now when I look at the photo! At some point I was really worried if I was knitting correctly. This is my first really lace project. So, when I read the pattern instructions which said "use the lace method to cast on ...", I had no idea what it was. After consulting Miss Stanley, I used the simplest loop cast-on and it seems to be the way to go:

However, I think I may have to put River on hold because I am waiting for Rowan's reply to my inquiry as to whether there are beads in the body of the shawl.

Other knitting updates: Summer is slipping silently away ... instead of setting at 8:40 p.m., the sun now sets at 7:40 p.m. So, I picked up the speed on the navy sweater. I hope that when it comes to the late summer time, it would be ready for Husband. Also, I have finished the left front of Bomber:

See that? Bomber is a real challenge, with the zipper front and pockets. I find that sometimes, Rowan patterns require a high level of common sense from knitters. Other than how to place the pockets, there is nothing on how to finish them! I think I can figure that out later.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Open to a bagful of delights

Imagine using a grey handbag on a cold, grey and maybe rainy December day, how wonderful it would be to open to a bagful of delights? You know the trick ... click on the photo!

This is why I chose the colourful fabrics. I felt so accomplished with the completion of the lining for this bag. There was not much sewing involved, mainly the zipper, because I opted for the easy way out.

A trip to JoAnn and I came home with tools I needed for the lining:
1. InnerFuse for a more sturdy base for the bag
2. 8.5" dressmaker's scissors (I didn't think the multipurpose scissors I have at home can do the job properly!)
3. Gutermann sewing thread in matching colour (just in case the non-sewing method didn't work)
4. 9" zipper
5. Fabrics (89 cents a piece ... they are having a sale!)
6. Steam-A-Seam 2 Double Stick Fusible Web
7. Buttons
8. Dressmaker's chalk pencil (I intended to get the yellow chalk my mom used to use but they only have this chalk pencil ... which I found to be useless. I ended up using ordinary pencil marking on the wrong side of the fabrics!)

Step-by-Step Assembling:
1. Use some waste paper to cut out the templates for the various pieces of the bag lining. You have to measure accurately to make sure the sides match. I made the lining measurements just a little bit smaller than the bag.
2. Then, use the templates to cut out the fabrics, with 1 cm hem around for the fusible web.
3. Make a sandwish of fabric (wrong side up), InnerFuse and fabric (right side up). Follow the instructions on the InnerFuse package and you'll have a good sturdy base for the bag. After ironing, trim the edges.
4. Now, the various pieces are ready for assembling using the fusible web, which works quite well.
5. You can even use the fusible web to join the zipper to the lining, which is okay because you'll sew the zipper (plus the fabric) to the bag later.

To make sure I sew the zipper properly, I used some safety pins to steady the position. This also made the sewing easier.
Afterwards, I added the button and made a 3" i-cord for closure. With the handle added, the bag is done!

Yarn: Rowan Magpie Aran Col: Dapple
Pattern: Three for the Road from Bags - A Knitter's Dozen (Check their website for errata!)
Needle: US7

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Another weekend project ... this time an FO

So, when I was done with the knitting part of Three for the Road, I was looking for something new to knit on Sunday. I didn't want to start another pair of socks yet. Ever since I received this welcoming kit from Rowan, I had wanted to start on it. So it became my Sunday project.

I am such a big big sucker for Rowan's KSH. Show me anything made with KSH, I would think it is beautiful ... but I am not too far away from the truth, I think. I love the yarn so much that I didn't even feel a bit of agitation when I had to frog twice. Oh yes, and I am quite good at frogging KSH without much drama. The first time I had to frog because I was just too greedy. Instead of knitting the 90cm specified by the pattern, I made it to 120cm ... totally underestimated how much yarn the ruffled edge would take. When I came to the third round of the first side of the edge, I had to admit my mistake and frog the scarf back to 95cm. The second time was when I was binding off the second side of the edge, I found that it didn't ruffle as much as the first side. I thought it was because instead of picking up one stitch per row, I did 3 stitches per 4 row. So, there I went again ... frog ... frog ... frog ... This is also why I could only finish the scarf last night, instead of Sunday night. The scarf itself was easy to work on. What surprised me was how much time the ruffled edge would take me.

I love love love this scarf. I joined Rowan International because of this. The ruffled edges make the scarf ultra feminine. I don't think I would make Ruffles from Scarf Style ... because that thing resembles chicken intestines too much (sorry if the image is a bit gross to you ... but I am Chinese, who are used to seeing chicken intestines!). But used as an accent to the scarf, I think they are wonderful.

Yarn: Rowan Kidsilk Haze Col: 600 Drewberry
Pattern: Froth Scarf designed by Eleanor Yates exclusively for Rowan
Needles: US8
Finished measurements: 10cm x 95cm excluding the ruffled edge

The scarf as shown in the photos was unblocked. I am wondering if I have to block it. What would you do? Do you think it needs blocking?

Have I told you that I felt like a queen when working with KSH?

Monday, August 15, 2005

Weekend project

Husband had to work a lot during the past weekend, so except going to the Saturday farmers' market, we mostly stayed home. (Yeah, he basically can work from home through the internet and the company's server.) This meant lots of knitting time. Somehow I lost some motivation for the sweaters, so I looked for something small and fun to work on.

Some time ago, I got this book from a secondhand bookstore and have since wanted to make Three for the Road ... because I think the bag looks really cool. I searched in my stash to find something to use. I finally decided on using the leftovers (almost 2 skeins!) from my first sweater. I could have used them for a scarf if the yarn weren't so itchy to my skin. A bag would be perfect for itchy wool! A fast knit, indeed. On Saturday night, I got this:

My experience of using unfelted knitted bag is that it had better be lined ... otherwise, the weight of the stuff you put inside would pull the fabrics down, making the bag out of shape. So, my mission this week is to find a zipper and some lining fabrics to finish the bag. I don't have a sewing machine and am not planning to buy one yet, so everything has to be hand sewn ... a new advanture to me!

Update on mammography: Received the result on Saturday - "Congratulations! Everything looks normal ... see you next year." YAY!

Friday, August 12, 2005

FO, Sock Landscape and Childhood Meme

What do you see when you look at this picture?

A pair of plain ribbed socks with a funny flared cuff? You are right, this is exactly what they are. But to me, the woman who spent hours knitting these 2 x 2 ribs, feeling like swimming in the middle of an ocean, with little hope of seeing dry land, I see my first pair of toe-up socks with relatively successful short-row heels. I also see the prototype for Husband's socks, which will be reproduced in various colours in the future.

I used the 8-figure cast-on and I found it easy to master. However, the toe-increases are a bit too tight. Next time, I would like to try short-row toe-increase. About the heels, I definitely like short-row heels because the number of stitches on the needle is always the same and I don't have to pick up stitches. I don't like picking up stitches ... especially when the pattern doesn't tell you how many to pick up and I have to decide on my own.

About the cuffs, yes, they are flare-shaped because I used the 2-stitch i-cord BO. You may think, "What the hell was she thinking using this BO for the socks?" But you see, the cuffs would be at the widest part of Husband's legs. He told me before that the long tail CO row was tight. So, I have to find a way to make sure the BO is loose enough. While working on Mystery Kit #4, I found that this method of BO would give a flared edge, which seems to suit my need. When trying on the first finished sock, he said he could still feel the BO row but much better than in the past. The socks look funny on their own, but they are good when worn on the feet ... you can't see the cuffs are flared at all. I finished these late last night and so couldn't get Husband to have model shots. Maybe later.

Yarn: Sock It To Me 4-ply Essential Col: 7413 Warm Tan
Gauge: 40 stitches to 4"
Needles: DPNs US1

As I have told you before, the new pattern at SixSox Knitalong was out and I would like to work on that. However, at the same time, I am also dying to use this yarn:

Here are 2 skeins of Knit Picks' Sock Landscape in Yukon. They are very soft and I would like to see if they wash well. Most probably I would use another pattern for them and start later on the SixSox pattern with a solid colour. Talking about washing well, the Rumba socks have been to the washer and dryer several times and they do wash well. So, I would probably get more of the Dancing yarns for summer socks.

5 Things I Missed From Childhood
Siow Chin tagged me on this meme, so here we go.

1) Playing in the neighbourhood with the neighbourhood kids
I grew up living in government housing. In some cases, these government housing estates could be quite seedy neighbourhood. The building I lived in was a 16-storey one with an incredile number of people living in it ... and so there were lots of kids to play with. I think some of the parents might have been in the gangs and some of these kids might have become gang members themselves. But I couldn't care less at the time and the adults seldom bothered us. We would play various games in the corridors on the various floors. Playing hide-and-seek was always a nightmare because there were just so many places to hide. All the games Laura mentioned in her meme were played by us too. I miss all these because now I know such an environment is just too dangerous for kids. If I had children of my own now, I would never let them play out there on their own. And this makes the memories all the more precious. Those were the days!

2) My mother braiding for me
I had long hair when I was in primary school (aged 6 to 13) and my mother always did the braiding for me because I was just too dumb to do it myself! My mom worked at home and she was always busy. I always liked the time when she combed my hair and arranged them into simple braids before I went to school. Later, I cut my hair short and she didn't do that anymore. I miss that.

3) The balcony of my uncle's apartment

He was the richer uncle. His wife (my aunt) was a snobbish person. My father was not really on good terms with them. However, they liked to have kids around as their own were all grown up already. So, during long school holidays, my parents would let me and my brother stay with them for several days, sometimes even weeks. Outside the windows of their apartment, they had this huge cage-like structure installed (illegally) hanging on the outside of the building. It was so huge that I could walk around the pots of plants and flowers put there. I always climbed into the cage-balcony to watch the people on the street below during the day, and the starry sky during the night. Now, even if the balcony were still there, I would be too big to do the same thing anymore!

4) Visiting my father's home village
He was an immigrant from a farm village in the Mainland China. It was approximately 3 or 4 hours' drive away from Hong Kong. However, in those early days, travelling to Mainland China was not an easy thing. All those customs procedures plus transport could take up a whole day. I remember we had to wake up in the middle of the night and got to the train station to line up for the train. Then waiting to pass customs could be 5 to 6 hours. When we finally arrived at the village, it would be near midnight. All these were very exhausting ... but to me, the adventurous feeling was just exhilarating and unlike other kids, I seldom had complaints along the way. My parents always felt they were lucky to have a kid like me in this situation ... LOL! Now, it has become extremely convenient to travel in China and there are no more those tiring customs.

5) Our cats
The living environment was not really suitable for us to have pets. However, we did keep cats for a very short time. I remember having a new-born kitten one time. I didn't know where my father got her from. I just remember him trying all methods to feed the little thing, but she was just too weak to survive long. Later, we found that my mother was allergic to cats ... she sneezed almost 24/7 with the presence of cats. So, we didn't keep any anymore. When I lived on my own, I was out almost the whole day and couldn't take care of any pet. Now, I still can't have a cat because the landlord doesn't like pets in the apartment.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

I should have counted first!

Thank you all very much for the concern, the encouragement, and the comforting words. I was just whining on a Saturday morning ... I know very well that I am amongst the lucky group. First of all, I know having regular tests is important. Knowledge is one of the most important preventive measures guarding our health. Then, I am able to afford medical insurance here. I grew up with government-sponsored medical system, in which the citizens were to pay a very small amount out of their pockets for the services. So, when I first came here, I had little idea how great a burden medical expenses can be on a family if without insurance. Lastly, I am able to drive to have the test myself. Considering all these, I feel blessed.

Okay, back to knitting-related content. Let me show you what you would get if you knit with a pre-occupied mind:

Without counting if I had the correct number of stitches left before continuing straight, I ended up with 10 stitches more than I should and had to rip back 20 cm. Luckily, the knitting became faster once I got the number correct because there were 10 stitches less. Here is the back of Bomber I managed to finish:

As I looked at the picture, I felt a kind of deja vu ... and I remember seeing something similar on Ei's blog - her Olive cardi! But the fact that this yarn is going to shrink lengthwise makes the narrow long ribbing back look even longer.

I just have half an FO with the Rib Socks ... the yarn is so very thin and I am knitting the leg part until the yarn finishes. Picture will come when the other one is done too ... but they are just ribbing, nothing special.

Side note: I am quite far behind in terms of using the photo-editing software ... just figured out how to manipulate different layers for effect like the one I post today. But isn't it cool that we can do something like that? ;)

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Antsy ... ants on a warm pan (Updated)

This is how I am feeling right now. Actually, this is how I have been feeling since Thursday afternoon ... after listening to the telephone message reminding me of my appointment this morning ... and after opening Bloglines and reading this post of Wendy's. 2 hours from now, I am going to have my first ever mammography done ... and I am feeling antsy about it.

To the best of my knowledge, no one in both my father's and mother's families has breast cancer. But the problem is, no one can really be safe from it until the very end. I am not afraid ... but just anxious and restless, yeah, like ants on a warm pan.

So, I knit. I knit the Rib Socks. I knit Bomber. Knit, knit, purl, purl ... knit, knit, purl, purl ... the rhythm of the knit-purl ribbing pattern is strangely soothing to the mind. I am going to bring the socks with me.

But at least there is one piece of good news. The Rib Socks fit Husband's feet. I can keep on doing knit, knit, purl, purl ...

Update: I arrived 30 minutes earlier, as instructed, and was actually done 5 mintues before the appointment! Now is another waiting of 8 to 10 days ... which I am not too worried about. There are lots of things to do and my mind would be fully occupied. Thanks for listening to my little rant this morning ... and wish you all a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Why is it so long?

While I was feeling happy that it seemed another FO was in sight, I suddenly took a good look at the 2x2 Rib Socks I was knitting. Would you feel a bit disheartened when you see this?

Yeah, the Rib Sock's heel is that much longer than the Chutes-N-Ladders'! Now, I have to wait until Husband comes home tonight and gives it a try on. I hope miracle would happen and I won't have to rip!

Happier news: I finished the Sirdar 8337 sweater's back. The set-in sleeve-armhole using Ann Budd's sweater pattern seems to be fine:

However, the real challenge is in sewing the sleeves to the body of the sweater ... and that would have to wait.

And look what I have here! Yeah ... right, another project! Actually, I started this not longer after the Sirdar sweater but I don't know why it has always slipped from my mind when I post. You probably can't see what it would be now. It is Bomber from Rowan's Denim People. I am using the Naturelle 8/8 cotton coned yarn I bought from Elann last year. You know, reading about other people knitting denim is one thing, knitting it yourself is another. Right now, I am feeling like balancing myself on a thin rope in the middle of the air ... so many things can go wrong with this denim yarn! And I'm not even using denim yarn! LOL! Well well well, keep my fingers crossed and I hope to give you good news eventually.

This afternoon, I am going to spend some time in the central park here practising my photo-taking. Wish you all a wonderful evening.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Have you met Claude and Eris yet? (Updated)

The last few days I was feeling so happy because of these 2 new girls. Claude is the latest design by the beautiful and talented Anna. While her Sgt Pepper jacket may be a bit too complicated for me to knit, I certainly think Claude would be a very elegant and wearable top. I am waiting for the pattern to come. And then Jenna's Eris totally have me captured! I got the 40-page (yes, you read it right, 40 pages!) pattern ... and I think I would make a cotton sweater and a wool cardi from it. And of course, with August comes the new pattern from Six Sox Knitalong, which is a British-gansey-inspired pattern. My hands won't be idle for a long long time!

Knit progress. Since I have been spending time on my photoblog, I didn't make too much progress on the navy sweater ... still 2 more inches before reaching the shoulder. Then, I just finished the short row heel on one of the rib socks. I have only one problem with the short row this time. For some reason unknown to me, there are holes on one side of the heel while the other side is perfect. I'll try to see if I can figure this out while working on the second sock.

Lastly, does any one of you know what "gauchos" are? I asked because I saw the poster on the right outside a fashion shop this afternoon and had no idea what they are. So, out of curiosity, I went into the shop to find out. But there was nothing labelled "gauchos" inside the store! I dare not catch too much attention as I was trying to shoot pictures of this and this. I had no idea why I wanted to take their pictures! ... But I still want to know what "gauchos" are!

Update: Many thanks to Fraggle, Liz and Shelley, I now have an idea what "gauchos" are! At first I thought it was something from the family of "poncho", so I kept looking for similar items in the shop ... LOL! But if you look at the poster carefully, it said, "KNIT gauchos" ... I think if I had found one inside the shop, I would have definitely taken a picute and sent it here!