Saturday, December 31, 2005

2005 Knitrospect

I thought I would have to post this in 2006. The internet connection has been out until 10 p.m.! First of all, some statistics. A summary of the projects I finished in 2005:

3 pullovers / sweaters
4 sleeveless tops
1 cardigan
9 scarves
3 wraps / shawls / stoles
9 pairs of socks
3 pairs of gloves / mittens
5 bags / accessories
1 sampler afghan
1 baby hat

Pretty productive, huh? The scarves are surprises to myself. I wouldn't have thought I would like knitting scarves ... or knit so many. It is very obvious that what I have are already more than what I really need ... but there are a number of scarves that I am itching to make. Perhaps just find an excuse ... hahaha ...

Other than the number of FOs, another thing I feel proud of myself is the number of WIPs on the needles. Unfinished business always irritates me. I only have GAAAfghan and Ella on the needles right now (plus a crocheting afghan project). Without the internet connection, I thought I would spend the whole 2005 New Year's Eve finishing Ella.

In terms of project types, I ventured into almost everything I can think of. I have no plan to make any poncho since it is something I don't wear. I am the most happy with the last sweater (Urban Aran) because it is so wearable. Nothing pleases me more than that. Of course, the Old Tiles jacket is my knitting poster child for 2005. I'm not sure if I would take up another adventure like that very soon.

Plans for 2006? I would really like to knit more socks next year. So, I would cast on for a new pair of socks on New Year's Day! :) In terms of sweaters, here is a store-bought shirt that I love wearing a lot:

It's not just the dark colour, but the shape of the shirt that fits me very well. Therefore, I have been looking at Tubey (Knitty) and Peppermint Twist (Stitch and Bitch). But instead of having the stripes on the body, I would have them on the sleeves.

Kerstin of At My Knits End has decided to give up blogging. This was what she wrote on the last post, "Over the last year or so, I found myself knitting for the blog instead of knitting for myself. It isn't a path I want to continue on in the new year." While I feel that it is a pity to see one knitter stopping her blog, I fully support her decision to do so if that was how she felt about blogging. So far, I have been knitting projects that I like and I enjoy the knitting enormously most of the time. So to wrap up this post, I hope we all continue to enjoy what we love doing and not let anything unnecessary interfere with that enjoyment.

Happy Knitting into 2006, everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2005

Suddenly ... another FO

About 3 weeks ago, I received an email from a former co-worker announcing that he has become a father! Wow! Happy news. It is a baby boy ... he is almost 2 months old now. The father said this in his email, "If you are in Hong Kong, you can knit him something... (just kidding)." And I thought, I don't have to be in HK to knit the little boy something, right? So, I cast on and started my first project for a baby. I didn't work on it consistently, just a row here and there ... and maybe another row before I fell asleep. But after I finished Urban Aran, I thought I should finish this project fast ... otherwise who knows? Babies grow fast ...

Pattern and Modifications: Purly White's Cable and Seed Stitch Baby Hat
Purly kindly offers this pattern for free. If you would like to try, just click on the link and leave her a comment; she would then send you the pattern.
I think the hat is incredibly cute ... but the cuteness didn't show until I started the decreasing rows. I don't enjoy knitting seed stitch too much, but I like the way it looks.

Yarns: Jo-Ann Sensations Collection Tesoro (100% Wool) Col: 632 Blue
This was among the Jo-Ann yarns I bought some time ago. The recommended gauge on the label is 18 stitches for 4" using US10. But somehow I was able to get the same gauge as Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (the yarn used by Purly) using US3. I have to say this yarn is quite a pleasure to work with. With the seed stitch and cables, the hat felt a bit stiff. However, after a quick wash, the stiffness went away completely. Since there are only 87 yards in a 50g-ball, I needed to get a second ball (with lots of leftover!).

Gauge and Needles: 25 stitches to 4", DPNs 3

Now, what I need to do is to get his address. Do you think the parents would let me knit their son another hat?

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

One more before 2006

I wonder if you have the same feeling ... that it is always a mystery how the sleeve cap of a set-in sleeve can fit into the body:

And very often, it makes me nervous! The good news is ... they do fit each other this time! My last FO for 2005 is done:

Can you see my happiness? Since it is bulky yarn, I expect I would look a bit more bulky in the sweater. Though I did swatch, I didn't wash the swatched piece (well, I almost never do this step!). The result? You see the sleeves? They are a bit longer because the yarn stretches lengthwise after wash. But on the whole, I am happy with the result and the sweater is comfy!

Pattern and Modifications: Urban Aran from Patons Designer Series Street Smart
After reading Terri's advice on better tailoring, I decided to go for the small size. As you can see from the pictures, the sweater fits very well and is with enough ease. The finished measurement of the sweater's width is 16.5". Blocking did stretch out a little bit, but not as much as the length.
For the collar, the instructions called for picking up stitches, knitting back and forth and then sewing the left shoulder up to the collar. I must say this is an unusual way to me. So, I did it my usual way - sewing both shoulders, picking stitches around the neck and knitting the collar in the round. The collar in the pattern measures 5" ... a deep turtleneck. I made it half the length so that the sweater can be more versatile.
One feature I like about the pattern is the cross ribbing on the sides, which gives a little waist shaping to the body.

Yarns: Jaeger Como (90% Merino Wool, 10% Polyamide) Col: 235 Orange
This is my first time knitting a sweater using bulky yarn. One good thing about bulky yarns is that they knit up really really fast. Not just that, even the sewing is fast! Jaeger Como feels really soft ... and it becomes even softer after wash. However, I can't say I enjoy knitting with it. This is because the yarn is untwisted, my needles always got caught through the strand. Besides, mysteriously, there were lots of plant fibres embedded. Well, I am happy to say that I didn't fall in love with this yarn ... which is not a bad thing considering the fact that it has been discontinued!

Gauge and Needles: 15 stitches to 1", US10 and US10.5

Thursday, December 22, 2005

New Sweater for New Year

Originally planned to post this morning, but the internet connection was cut by Comcast again. No big deal to me. No internet means more knitting time. But first I have to thank you all for the birthday wishes for the blog. At first when I started it, I thought perhaps it would only last a few months. Now of course, as some of you said, I wish there are many many to come.

Haven't had an FO for quite some time. As much as I'd like to finish up Bomber, I am still at the mercy of USPS. The zipper did arrive last week ... but it was a closed-end one! Turned out it was a mistake by the shop. But Jeff of Zipperstop had been very helpful and responsive to my enquiry. The correct zipper should be on its way here ... but you know, Christmas time. Perhaps Bomber would be my first FO in 2006 ... ha!

Progress on Urban Aran is good, though not as fast as I expect since I have also been absorbed in the reading of Jan Burke's novels. I haven't been so much engrossed with a writer for quite some time. The last one would be Patricia Cornwell, and Val McDermid before that. The last Cornwell book I read had been sloppy and disappointing to me. I hope the latest one would restore my liking for her. But I digressed. The body pieces for Urban Aran were finished last night and here is a lousy picture:

With the aid of safety pins, I tried them on last night and thought that it would fit just right after some blocking. I am now half way through the sleeves (knitting both at the same time). Guess this would be in time for the new year. :)

Monday, December 19, 2005

1 Year Old

My dear knitting blog,

After having grabbed the blog address from Blogger for more than 3 months, I finally perked up the courage to present you to the public today exactly one year ago. Maybe it had nothing to do with courage, just that I did have a little something knitted to show the world!

For quite some time, I thought I would be the only one interested in what I was putting here. Scanty as they were, every comment I got, other than resting here safely with you, they were also locked in the treasure box in my heart. The increase in the quantities of them does not undo their magic. They are what convinced me that I am not talking to myself!

In many ways, you have brought pleasures into my life. You and my knitting - you two go hand in hand ... and enhance each other. Without the need of updating you with the progress in my knitting, I don't know, maybe what I have in my knitting basket now would just be bags of UFOs. And without having any knitting FOs, you will soon lose meaning for your existence. Through the two of you, I got to know a lot of other talented and nice people / knitters from all over the world. Even more important than their compliments on my knitting (they are all nice and polite people, you know), I got advice, suggestions, and inspirations from what they said here and my visiting their blogs in return.

Today is your first birthday and I have to thank you for the past phenomenal year. Happy Blogiversary!


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Something better?

I've been troubled by a cold bug for 2 days. Nothing serious ... just some sneezing and nose-blowing, a little bit tired. It's always more serious in the morning. Knitting is still going on. But there is another more serious bug nagging me as I am progressing slowly with the Wavy Lace Shawl - the pattern doesn't go well with the variegated yarn:

See what I mean? The pooling has taken all the attention from the lace pattern. Last night, I finally admitted to myself that it was not worth going on. I did some search and found Ella. The originally pattern also used a variegated yarn ... but still I have to make sure it works well with mine too:

I think it is A LOT better. I like the idea of a V-shaped shawl, so I am going for that. A plus for the pattern is that it is surprisingly easy to memorize. I hope to get more done to show you how it turns out.

While I am still waiting for the zipper to arrive, I started a real winter sweater using a discontinued yarn:

Como is a very very light merino yarn which feels very soft in the hand. I originally planned to make one of the sweaters from the Jaeger 09 Como Collection. But then the Urban Aran from Street Smart caught my eyes. One good thing about knitting with bulky yarn is that it is fast. I knitted 2/3 of a sleeve for gauge testing and then now I am almost at armhole shaping for the back:

Suddenly realized that I am knitting a sweater in ribbing again!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Brother's Mittens

They are finished and blocked as scheduled. Honestly, during the years I've known my brother (!), I haven't seen him wearing any glove-like objects. So, I am not sure if he would wear these ... but I just think that it would be nice for him to have something to keep his hands warm during the night-shifts.

So now, all I need to do is to pack everything together and go to the post office ... if I don't delay this, for once I would be able to send the presents on time. My idiosyncrasy ... I just don't like going to post office, so I would keep putting it off.

Pattern and Modifications: Broad Street Mittens from Knitty (designed by Janis Cortese) plus the glove pattern in Ann Budd's The Knitter's Handbook of Patterns
I knitted the gloves mainly following Ann Budd's pattern and switched to the Knitty pattern for the mitten covers.

Yarns: Elann's Sock It to Me Collection Essential 4 Ply
Since I used Ann Budd's book to help with the gauge, I went back to this machine-washable sock yarn, which is more practical for my brother in terms of care. The yarn is a bit rough to the touch when you first knit with it, but it softens more and more with wash ... but of course, don't try to compare it with Lorna Lace ... hahaha ...

Gauge and Needles: 7.5 stitches to 1", dpns US2 and US3 (for binding off of fingers)

During the past weekend, I managed to get a second square (Vicki Sever Square) for the GAAA done:

There was no struggle with the needle sizes and gauge this time. I love the design of this square and it was a great pleasure to work with. Sever got the inspiration for the design from her sister who died of breast cancer. Other than the breast cancer awareness ribbon, the cross stands for faith, the anchor for hope and the heart for love. I especially like the anchor.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Free magazines

Ooops ... I have to tell you beforehand that this is going to be a photo-less post!

Thank you all very much for the advice on Bomber. I am still waiting for the zipper to arrive. As I said before, without the zipper, the ribbing just won't budge and keep bouncing back, so it's really hard to tell if the jacket fits. And if it doesn't, I would certainly try wet blocking it again. Last time after washing, I just let it dry on the board ... without any pinning.

The gloves are finished. Knitting them has been a breeze, even with the thin sock yarn. I could knit up one in a day! I tried picking up stitches for the covers last night but it turned out to be the most difficult part of the project. Dark sock yarn + tiny needles = teary eyes! And when I finally managed to pick up the 30 stitches from the knuckles of the gloves, I knitted the cover in the wrong direction! Now I finally understand how it should be done ... call me slow, I know! Hopefully, the whole thing would be finished and blocked this weekend.

Finally I have one piece of information to pass on to you. Do you like Rebecca Magazine? They are giving away Rebecca #2 and #3 for free now ... but the magazines are in German only, and of course you have to pay for the shipping. If you are interested, click here to see how.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

I'm back!

One week passed quickly and yesterday we saw my MIL off at the airport. Afterwards I tried to do some catching up with my Bloglines reading ... and, as before, got a shock - over 150 posts! I think maybe I need several days to clear that! ;)

During my MIL's stay here, the weather had really been lousy for some time. Luckily, we got to see some sunshine towards the end. I am also happy to report that she loves Kiri. After I posted on the shawl, I put it inside a large Ziplock bag (a really really large one) and set it aside. So, I haven't seen the shawl in person for quite some time. When I took it out for my MIL, I was also stunned to find how beautiful it is! I am thinking maybe I can make myself a Birch ...

Other happy knitting news! During the past week, thanks to the rain, I was able to have some pockets of time to knit. I re-started the first square in the Great American Aran Afghan:

This is the Meredith K. Morioka Square. The pattern calls for a 5 repeats of the center lattice pattern; but I found that I could get 12" with 4 repeats (plus the help of blocking). This is the 3rd attempt when I was finally able to get the gauge. I can envision a lot of ripping in the course of this project.

Today is already the 6th day of December. If I want to send the Christmas presents to my brother on time, I think I need to push myself a little more on Broad Street Mittens:

The first glove without the covering flap is done. I plan to finish both gloves before attempting to work on the flaps.

Last but not least (I love this phrase!), Bomber:

The shrinking of the yarn was not as much as the pattern calls for, but that worked to my advantage as I'd love the jacket to be a bit longer than that in the pattern. However, the sad news is that it may be a bit too tight for me widthwise. This has been bothering me while knitting. I can still fit into the jacket, which is without a zipper now (on its way home from Zipperstop), so it's hard to tell what it would look like when completely finished. But the truth is ... I love this jacket. So, maybe I just need to sweat more and shed some fat to wear it. :P