Friday, March 31, 2006

Flash your WIPs

It is Elspeth's challenge:

Here are my WIPs at this moment:
1. This is a crocheting project - 63 Easy-To-Crochet Pattern Stitches Combine to Make An Heirloom Afghan. I have done 14 squares so far ... haven't made any progress for a long long time. But I still love the afghan, so I am sticking to it. Crocheting is more difficult for me than knitting.

2. 8.5 sts sweater is still about 10 inches long. I think instead of socks, I should take this as my on-the-go project.

3. Must Have Cardigan with just about one and a half sleeves to go. I am still waiting for the desire to finish this to come back.

4. Cedar Creek Socks (STR sock kit) ... no worry about this one. I am already 1.5" into the leg of the second sock.

5. Great American Aran Afghan ... 2 squares done. Last time I stopped, I was flipping through the booklet wondering which square to start next ... then got caught up in other knitting.

6. Sampler Stole from A Gathering of Lace ... I got confused about the number of stitches on Row 70 last night. As I always do when I get confused, I put it away and went to bed. Usually, things would get sorted out after a good night's sleep. :)

I don't think I have too many WIPs on hand. 2 of them are afghan projects which take a long stretch of time to finish. For the others, I do have confidence I would finish them eventually ... and the most important of all, I still have the desire to finish them. How about you?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Oops ... distracted!

Yesterday, I read Grumperina's post and click on an earlier post of hers linked with that post. In that earlier post, she mentioned Azalea from First Book of Modern Lace Knitting. I didn't have the book when I first read that post and so had no idea what she was talking about. But yesterday, I happened to have the library copy with me ... so I checked ... and thus got distracted.

What she said was right, the stitches of Azalea can become boring ... however, it is just beautiful! I happened (again) to have some crochet cotton with me. So, I started making a glass mat:

It is an easy and fun project. It was done now ... waiting for the final finishing:

I have yet to read how to stretch the crocheted chains and then block it into a glass mat. But knitting with tiny thread and wire like needles can be fun. I used the smallest sized (US000) needles from the Susan Bates Silvalume set. The needles are not very sturdy and all are in strange shape now. What I need to do next is to look for some better needles.

This morning, Rebekah of Knit Knack proposed a yarn diet game. I joined. :) To participate, you need to have self control, to be honest, and to contribute to the gold pot for the prizes. But you can also win some goodies at the end. So, if you are interested (come on, we all know we have a problem, right?) go here and send her a comment or email.

Now, I think I need to return to my Cedar Creek socks. The first sock was done, I just need to cast on for the second sock.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Moving into the fun part

The progress on the Sampler Stole has been satisfactory. I finished the central panel during the weekend. The final decision was to just knit 6 pattern repeats because I was starting to feel bored by the 14-sts pattern. Not that there was anything new, but since I wanted to get the measurements, so why not take a picture with the stole stretched out?

Pretty, huh? But wait until I finish the borders! I've seen Melissa's and Eunny's borders and they are really lovely! The patterns on the borders are much more exciting - 32-sts repeat and all 169 rows are different! I am up to row 40 of the first border and the pattern is starting to show ... maybe I can give you a sneak peek:

You may have read this a zillion times, but I have to tell you that it's really true - lace knitting is ADDICTIVE! I have already decided to start Birch once the Sampler Stole is done ... Birch! ::sigh::

To end today's post, I'd like to show you a picture of my handknit socks collection ... which is still a very meager one. Yesterday was laundry day and here they are (all except 2 pairs) drying on the rack:

One observation of the LB Magic Stripes yarns ... the socks soften more with every wash. The first pair (the green and blue stripes) are significantly softer than the Jelly Bean Stripes. The orange pair were made from KnitPicks Dancing ... and I don't like them too much. If you want cotton elastic socks, use Cascade Fixation instead of Dancing ... a lot more comfortable.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Jelly bean is good for you

Jelly Beans
Calories per serving (34 pieces; 1.4 oz.): 80

Jelly Bean Stripes Socks
Calories per serving (2 socks; 3.125 oz.): 0

Pattern: 3k1p basic sock pattern with 64 stitches cast on
Yarn: Lion Brand Magic Stripes Col: Jelly Bean Stripes (75% wool, 25% nylon)
Gauge and Needle: 8sts per inch with US1.5
Start date: 03-19-2006
Finish date: 03-24-2006

Finally there is a colour combination that doesn't contain brown/copper. Jelly Bean Stripes is a very cheerful colour combination ... and I like it. I thought I was going to have a pair of perfectly matched socks ... until the last several rounds. Just don't understand why. But it doesn't matter. I know these Lion Brand socks are going to be worn frequently ... at least before the really warm season comes ... and at least before I finish my next pair.

Yes, there is new sock on the needle:

I'm sure you must have seen lots of these floating around the blogsville ... Cedar Creek Socks in Rainforest Jasper. Aren't the colours very rich?

Friday, March 24, 2006

One hank of Lorna's Lace Shepherd Sock

What can you do with one hank of Lorna's Lace Shepherd Sock in Bold Red?

Not much really ... click on the above photo to see why.

Inspiration: Blue Moon Fiber Arts' gift to their sock club members.
I saw this in Stitches West and found it so cute that I almost joined the club on the spot just to get one! Then I thought I could make one myself. This one was made from the leftover yarns from the Sockapal3za socks. It would become a keychain and put into the package for my sock pal. Since I suck at picking out gifts, I think this is the only other gift I'm going to send her. I hope she'd like it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Driving on highway ... Woo!

Next month would be the 4th anniversary of my getting a driver's license here ... well, actually ever in my life. I only drive on city streets and expressways (max. speed limit 50mph) when I am driving on my own. My own experience on the highways would be when I was the designated driver on a night out, and we returned home in the wee hours when traffic was extremely light. But yesterday, I had the adventure of taking Highway 17 to go to Los Gatos.

It all started when I read this post by Mary Beth. I love that bag ... which is exactly what I need now. The carryall bag I am using now was enough for me before I started knitting. But now if I want to take even a small project with me, I need to carry it instead of stuffing it into my bag. So, I looked for a Smith & Hawken near me ... the nearest would be in Los Gatos. I went there before by taking the longer route ... but I somehow feel that I can drive good enough now to go on the highway. So, there I went ... via Highway 17!

I struggled between green and blue (there are 3 colours - green, blue and deep purple) and chose this springy green (and just discovered that MB's is also green!). This is really the perfect bag for knitters. The picture on the right is just to show you how roomy this bag is. Items inside are:
-half a ball of LB Magic Stripes
-a new skein of LB Fisherman's Wool (that's a huge skein of yarn!)
-a knitting book on lace from the library
-a paperback fiction
-my wallet
-my cell phone
-my PDA
... and other odds and ends ... and there is still LOTS of room left! And there are altogether 6 deep pockets on the sides of the bag (in one of which you can see a juice bottle). Of course, I wouldn't take so many yarns with me during the day. But now I can use this to carry my gym gears plus a small project with me ... no need for a separate gym bag.

The only shortcoming I can find so far is that there is no means to close the bag. For a careless and paranoid person like me, perhaps it would be a better idea to have something like Velcro sew-on tape ... and that's what I am going to do.

There is no knitting to show today though I haven't stopped knitting. I just finished the 4th central panel repeat of the Samper Stole last night. There are 3.5 more to go but I may stop with 2.5 more. As you can see from the picture above, I only have HALF a ball of Magic Stripes ... so another pair of socks soon. Wish you all a wonderful mid-week ... Happy Knitting!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Some real progress

I am not referring to Must Have Cardigan, with which I seem to be suffering from some sort of knitting funk. So it is highly possible that I would put it on the back burner and wait until I feel like working on it again; maybe next winter, who knows? The progress I am talking about is for the Sampler Stole.

I started this project on the first day of March and got 14 rows done during the first few days. With 14 rows, the pattern didn't really show and so I began to suspect the needle size (US2) I used was not right. Then I discovered that Eunny is using a size way smaller than mine. Therefore, I continued. Now I have finished 2 pattern repeats for the central panel and finally I can see the pattern emerging.

I am using KnitPicks' Alpaca Clouds in Iris. The colour is really hard to capture ... but maybe you can see it better in this:
You can also see the best stitch marker I discovered. Those beaded stitch markers are cute and beautiful ... but they really irritate me, especially in lace. These double rings are perfect - the size is right; there is nothing unnecessary that would get in the way of knitting; and unlike split stitch markers, the very thin lace yarn won't get caught through the split.

Actually, this is my third attempt. For the first time, I didn't get the provisional cast on right. Then, I found that I was struggling big time but didn't get much done with the Aero needle (right of the picture). After touring the nearest shops, I found the best needle (left of the picture) for this lace project - Susan Bates Quicksilver:
That little point made the knitting a lot easier to manage, though the cord is not. It would be perfect if I could transplant the pointy needles to the very flexible Addi cord.

Right now, I am loving this project. This is a more sophisticated lace project than River or Kiri, and yet not so challenging that I would feel frustrated ... yet! I still have to see how it goes when it comes to the 2 borders and the edging.

Magic Spell of the Stripes

I feel like I am not able to stop ... knitting self-striping socks!

Pattern: 3k1p basic sock pattern with 64 stitches cast on
Yarn: Lion Brand Magic Stripes Col: Denim Stripes (75% wool, 25% nylon)
Gauge and Needle: 8sts per inch with US1.5
Start date: 03-15-2006
Finish date: 03-18-2006

Completely mindless knitting ... which is indeed quite enjoyable. I still have one ball of Jelly Bean Stripes. Then, one ball of Opal Petticoat and one ball of Trekking XXL 133 (which I am not sure if it is self-striping) ... these two are definitely thinner than the Lion Brand ... this means it may take longer time to knit a pair. But it is really fun ... I love self-striping sock yarns!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sock Experiment (Edited)

[Edited to add: Files of my blog were unfortunately located at a bad filer of Blogger, therefore it has not been available for viewing since last night (03-16-2006). I hope everything is going to work fine now. ]

Husband has Princess legs ... what I mean is his physical senses are much more (a lot, actually!) delicate and sharper than mine. Because of this, even though I already used 2 needles and the German twisted cast on method for his socks, still he said the cast on row was tight, so much that he could feel it on his legs. Therefore I need to find a solution.

Since he has no such complaint against commercial socks, I figure I need to look into them. Elastic thread. These are what I can find in the market:
The Stretch-Rite elastic sewing threads (in bobbins) can be found in stores like Jo-Ann and Hancock Fabrics. Only two colours are available. The Rainbow Elastic Thread was found in one of my LYSs. There is a wide range of colours available on special order. The Stretch-Rite is made of polyster while the Rainbow cotton, therefore, the latter feels much softer. However, the lady from the LYS thought that the Rainbow may not be able to stand much wear and wash ... which I agree. So, I proceeded with the Stretch-Rite threads.

I used the elastic thread to cast on on 2 needles, then divided the stitches on 4 needles and continued knitting using ordinary sock yarn. This is the knitted experiment swatch, unstretched:
Here you can see how much the swatch can stretch with ease:
But how does it feel on Husband's leg? This is the best part. I put this on his leg last night for 20 minutes. His comment was he didn't feel the cast on row as before.

Yeah, it is not as good to look at as using the sock yarn, but in this case, comfort wins over aesthetic consideration.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Sockapal3za: Fancy Silk Socks

If you don't want to pass out from the intense cable knitting of Must Have Cardigan, what are you to do? Some lace sock knitting, of course.

After a detour of 2 finished pairs of socks, it's about time I returned to the socks for my sock pal. Originally I planned on doing this AFTER I finished Must Have. Obviously I underestimated the power of sleeve island. Really, I do want to know if this power is indeed that strong, or it is just a psychological thing? Anyway, I was only able to finish the increase on the first sleeve and there were still a few inches to go before the sleeve cap on Saturday. This was really slow considering the fact that I finished the left front within a day last weekend. But I just felt that I had had enough of the pattern ... so I did something else other than knitting. Then on Sunday, I casted on for the second Sockapal3za sock ... and now the finished pair are blocking on the towel:

Aren't they pretty?

Pattern: Fancy Silk Socks by Nancy Bush from Knitting Vintage Socks
This is a lovely pattern. It is really easy to remember but produces a very pretty lace pattern. Once you click with the pattern, you just can't stop knitting. Here is a close-up of the scallop cuff:

It is quite a nice change from ribbing cuff ... but not as neat. Even though pretty to look at, it had a difficult time staying flat. (But it got better after being washed.)

1) To get the size right for my sock pal, I casted on 72 stitches instead of 64.
2) On the last pattern repeat before turning heel, I did stocking stitches on the heel stitches:

I learned this from Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts's Simple Socks: Plain and Fancy, in which she called these "ankle rows". I think in this way, the socks look more normal in that the lace doesn't seem to get into the shoes when you wear them.
3) Short-row heels and flat toes.

Yarn: Lorna's Lace Shepherd Sock Col: 11ns Bold Red
I love this yarn ... soft, bouncy, lovely to work with. The colour is just delicious. As I said before, I think the pattern goes even better with this red than the purple in the book ... fancy lace plus bold colour = winner!

Needles: US1

Start date: 02-12-2006
Finish date: 03-13-2006

Now I just need to wait for Sock Mom's instructions.

Friday, March 10, 2006

If Wednesday can be random (New item added)

I think so can Friday! ;)

I just discovered I would need 3 skeins of LL Shepherd Sock to make the Gentleman's Sock with Lozenge Pattern and I only have 2.

I got my copy of Knitting Around yesterday ... and I love it! I love the Moebius Vest, the Pie Are Square Shawl, the Moccasin Socks and the Norwegian Sweaters.

I find that I love reading the "Digressions" sections of the book very much ... and that EZ was a talented painter too. And yes, she was extremely beautiful.

I have all the EZ books except Knitting Without Tears.

Seeing a yarn ball getting more and more hollow in the center gives me enormous satisfaction. That would push me to knitting faster in order to start a new ball.

It's snowing on 1000ft above sea level here ... I haven't heard the word "snow" so much in the local weather forecast before.

Believe it or not, Bloglines picks up my post a lot faster than Newsgator.

How long would you let your finished laundry stand before you fold them? My present record is 2 days.

I am saying hello and wish you all a wonderful weekend from sleeve island. I hope I won't be stranded here for too long!

Ready for some irresistable cuteness? Then click here ... I've never seen so many baby pandas together before! I watched this video clip more than 10 times this morning!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Just in time!

There are cold temperatures in the weather forecast here:

(Ahem ... just to remind you that I live in California ... where people feel cold easily! hahaha ...) This is why I have been working on my Magic Stripes Socks like "a tazmanian devil knitter", to quote Debi. Now I have new socks for the coming cold front.

Pattern: 3k1p ribbing basic sock pattern with 64 sts cast on
Yarn: Lion Brand Magic Stripes Col: 207 Regatta Blue Stripe (75% wool, 25% nylon)
The yarn doesn't have as much elasticity as you would expect from a wool sock yarn. It feels more like cotton blend on the hand. I hope this isn't going to affect the lifespan of the socks. However, I am sure about the 75% wool content because the socks are very warm and comfortable. The socks in the picture were pre-wash. After taking the picture, I washed them in tepid warm water and the colours, mainly the blues, bled a bit.
This is my first time knitting with self-striping yarn ... and I love it. Even without a complicated pattern, the knitting has been fun. I just felt I couldn't stop knitting in order to see how the stripes turn out ... or if the patterning would be identical with the first sock. As you can see from the picture, there are differences in the heels and the toes. Erin asked how I determined the exact position of the yarn to start the second sock. Well, just take a look at this:

That between the two arrows is one pattern repeat. So, I just have to find where the beginning of the pattern is, in my case, the beginning of the 3 white stripes, and start there. Trying to have an identical pair is just part of the fun in using self-striping yarns. I am not a fanatic in this aspect, so even if the 2 socks are not the same, I won't be bothered. But if you want to learn more on how to make a matching pair, read Sockapal3za Sock Mom Alison's post, she is amazing!

Gauge and Needles: 8 sts per inch, US1.5

Before I wish you a wonderful mid-week, I'd like to show you this:

Please don't think that I enjoy torturing you with boring pictures. I just want to recruit your help in motivating me to knit the 8.5-stitch sweater. Two weeks ago when I showed you the progress, it was 5". Now it is almost 8.5" ... only half an inch shy of my 2" a week target. I hope next time this appears again, it would be the start of armhole shaping.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lousy weather plus a busy husband

That would give you lots of knitting time! If you expect to see a finished PAIR of socks today, sorry, I just began to turn heel on the second sock. I spent all my energy knitting crazily on Must Have Cardigan:

Back and left front done! After working on 113 stitches on the back, the 59 stitches of the front seemed so easy! I expect to land on sleeve island very soon.

I worked with frenzy on this wool cardigan because if I can finish it within this month, I may still get some use of it before the warm weather comes. And more importantly, I am dying to start a new project ... a spring/summer project ... using this:

This denim yarn has been in my stash since the time I first knew about Elann. If I keep a yarn in the stash for too long, I would start feeling annoyed ... since it feels like I have made an unjustified purchase. Actually I did have plan for it when I bought it ... Mary from Rowan Denim:

This was the version I liked when I first got the book. However, when I browsed through the book again last week, I found that I like this version better:

Believe it or not, these two jackets are of the same pattern with the only difference being the collar shapes. Yet, the V-neck Mary seems so much more figure flattering ... I start to suspect the presence of safety pins on her back! One problem with this pattern is that there is only one size ... a finished measurement of 46" after wash! Does she (the model) look like she would need a 46" jacket? I would have to read through the pattern and reduce the number of pattern repeats.

So, in order to start this project, I require myself to finish Must Have Cardigan. I certainly hope I won't get burned out after the intense knitting this past weekend. :)

Saturday, March 04, 2006

One sock

Next challenge - make her an identical twin. She weighs 44g ... and I have located the position of the yarn to start already ... the remaining ball starting from that point weighs 45g! So, it's possible!

Have a wonderful weekend ... Happy Knitting!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tides of Time

Two or three years ago, Husband and I went on a two-day white water rafting trip. You know, I am a thoroughly city person who is more familiar with car honks than the chirping of crickets, so it was quite an adventure to me. At first glance, the river seemed to be a harmless peace. But the meandering twists and turns can turn it into a wild horse. I remember at one of the more rough rapids, we were thrown into the water. Luckily, we were able to hold on to the raft before reaching the more peaceful flow and climbing back onto it. When I was being carried by the water, everything around me became blurred and unfocused, we passes other rafts, there might be people on the river side resting, but all these passed so quickly that they just seemed like ghost shadows ... I put all my attention to my grip on the raft ... honestly, it was scary.

There is a Chinese expression that can be roughly translated as "tides of time". I know it all my life. Yesterday, when I realized it was the first day of March, for a very brief moment, that scary feeling being drifted away in the river suddenly rose in me. It was then I seemed to fully understand the power of the expression ... tides of time!

It is just natural that we all hold on to something important and dear to us ... Memorabilia, photos and videos of special occasions and moments of our lives always help us to have a better grasp of time past and bring back fond memories. Perhaps this is also why I am always more interested in the projects more than the yarn stash ... both in my own blog and other knitters'. To me, it is much more meaningful to mark the time with a finished project than with the purchase of yarns.

Perhaps this is also the reason for my decision to give up one of the projects on needle. Having spent a reasonable amount of time on it and still not feeling a bond with it, I think it is time to say goodbye to the Mystery Shawl. I have tried ... but time is precious. Just like a relationship that won't work, spending more time on it would just make the parties concerned to hate each other. So, Mystery Shawl no more! In her place now is Sampler Stole from A Gathering of Lace. This is going to be a great challenge - thin yarn, small needles ... would the result be as beautiful as this? We have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, I think I should have ample time for another pair of socks before I return to taking care of my sock pal. So, I grabbed a ball of yarn from my stash and started this:

Okay, I should know that no pattern is really needed for self-striping yarn, but just couldn't help trying to knit something other than boring stocking stitch or ribbing. I learned, I learned ... so ribbing it should be:

So much better! And it goes fast too! When looking at the yarn ball, I somehow missed the brown/beige colour ... though not very fond of that, the striping isn't too bad when knitted and the colours come together quite well ... but still, I would love it more without the brown/beige. Oh, in case you wonder, this is Lion Brand Magic Stripes Regatta Blue Stripe. I know the yarn snobs among you would start to frown ... Lion Brand? But let me tell you ... I love Lion Brand, yay! ::laugh::