Sunday, December 31, 2006

2006 Knitrospect

So it is that time of a year again ... time to look back and then look forward. I didn't do a good job in keeping up with my knitting gallery this year. Just managed to put it together about a week ago:
One bad habit ... can't help counting ... even though we all know very well that quality means lots more than quantity. So, here's the count:

3 cardigans/jackets
2 pullovers/sweaters
3 summer tanks
4 shawls/stole
16 pairs socks
1 pair gloves
1 scarf
3 dishcloths

Reading my own review on 2005, I did do what I wanted to do ... knitting more socks, though I never got to start Tubey. I gave a little twist on Peppermint Twist and turned it into the Leftovers Tank. See, this is one good thing about not having a long list of resolutions ... you can really get to realize those few that you have ... at least some of them! ;)

One thing I am most proud of myself is finishing the Sampler Stole, which gave me a taste of more complicated lace patterns. Though I suffered some setback in attempting the Unst Lace Stole, I do believe I'll be able to do that later.

Another thing worth mentioning is that I now have a much better idea in choosing a size that fits myself ... not just in knitting, but also in shopping for clothes. I have always thought myself to be a size L. After coming to the States, I found myself to be a size M most of the time ... and sometimes even a size S. Now I know that with summer tank, a finished measurement of 34" would fit me ... negative ease! And that a 36" sweater would give me a good roomy fit. It's just funny what it took me to really know about these details of myself.

Of course, there are some unfinished business. I didn't work really hard on my afghan projects ... nor the sweater for Husband. Also waiting to be finished are these two:
The left back of the Sashiko Jacket is done and I am working on the right back. While waiting for the zipper to arrive, I started the Ogee Tunic. It was fast ... and I love that fractal pattern on the front. So, for New Year Resolutions, I'll say I'd like to find a way to motivate myself on unfinished business.

To wrap up this 2006 review, I present you my 2006 Sock Wheel:

Wish you all a Wonderful and Healthy 2007 to come. Champagne ready?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Diagonal Twist Princess-seam Jacket

So the zipper finally arrived yesterday and I could get to install it. At first, I was thinking this time it would be easy with the sewing machine. Yes, it was easy ... but not because of the sewing machine. You see, the thing with installing a zipper is that the first time is the hardest and the most intimidating. You don't really have the slightest idea of how to do it ... you do lots of researching ... and you are still not sure if you get it right ... but you just go ahead and see what happen ... and then it is done, good or bad. Then, when you need to do it the second time, you suddenly find that a lot of the nervousness is not there anymore. Nice!

Now with the sewing machine. Mainly two problems. First, I couldn't control how close to the teeth I could get. With hand sewing, I could get this:
I didn't make the teeth go all invisible because I am afraid the yarns would get caught in the zipper all the time, especially with the tweeds. As you can also see, the stitching is also invisible ... which is practically impossible with the sewing machine.

Pattern: Diagonal Twist Princess-seam Jacket designed by Teva Durham from Loop-D-Loop
Lots of people took a great liking to this pattern when they got the book because the jacket is really lovely. But as I've told you before, so far no one has made one ... I wonder why.
I made basically no modification except lengthening body and the sleeves a bit to suit me. I like having the zipped version more. Besides, I am glad that I got a 2-way zipper ... seems way cool.

Yarn: Classic Elite Gatsby (70% Wool, 15% Viscose, 15% Nylon) Colour: 2185
I made the small size and used 8.5 balls. I don't use bulky yarns very often, but this Gatsby is a lovely yarn. Since it has been discontinued, the choice of colours is very limited now. I chose to use the same yarn as the one in the book because I was not sure if it would be easy to adapt the pattern for a different gauge. Now that I have finished making the jacket, I found that it was really not too difficult.

Gauge and Needles: I used Denise US15 and got a gauge slightly tighter than 12 sts = 4" over Diagonal Twist Rib.

Start date: 12-09-2006
Finish date: 12-29-2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's Christmas!

Have a Merry/Healthy/Peaceful/Warm/Yummy/(Whatever way you want your Christmas to be) Christmas! Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again! :D

Saturday, December 23, 2006

All I want for Christmas

... is for the zipper to arrive. But it seems it is not going to happen ... Mr. Postman is much too busy with the festival delivery! You see, the knitting and sewing and all finishing of the Princess-seam Jacket were done:
No zipper, no closure! But the good news is that the jacket is going to fit with the zipper and blocking. I wore it to the farmers' market this morning and I love it. The jacket has a lovely shape and is actually quite elegant, but goes well with jeans for a dress down outfit.

In my last post on this jacket, Casey gave me a very good tip on blocking on carpet ... using a plastic bag underneath the towel. I also came across other knitters' idea of using a styrofoam as blocking board on the Knitters' Review Forum. But since I stopped going to big shops starting Thursday to avoid the holiday shopping crowds, I think I won't go to Home Depot until after the new year.

Thank you all very much for your caring concern. We heard some commotion last night and we thought it was the girl coming back for her personal belongings. Obviously she was not alone. Husband and I felt bad for her all day yesterday. We also filed a complaint against the neighbour with the complex management. Their advice was that we should call the police immediately if anything like this happens again and at the same time inform them or the courtesy patrol. This way we don't have to let a stranger inside our apartment. Well, I just hope that we won't have to use this advice anymore.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Weird Day

It was not really a good feeling being woken up at 6 in the morning by some banging on your patio window! Turned out it was our neighbour's girlfriend, who is a Korean speaking very little English. Therefore, we had a hard time finding out from her exactly what happened. But from the scratchy information we got, we figured that they had a fight and she was being shut out of the apartment ... only in her nightdress and slippers!

We felt very sorry for her. So after wrapping her in a blanket and giving her some warm milk, we let her use the phone. But then we became increasingly uneasy with the situation. She said she was a student who has been here for 2 years ... but honestly, she didn't look a bit like student ... and I expect someone being in school here for 2 years to speak a lot better English. Husband went to knock on the neighbour's door but instead found him starting to leave in his car. When he saw Husband, he asked if he heard the screaming (?!). When told that his girlfriend was in our place, he said something really bazzar ... "She's poisoned! Get rid of her!" ... and then drove off! According to eye-witness (Husband), the neighbour looked insane.

When we suggested calling the police (shutting one out of the house in the middle of the night in the cold is considered domestic violence, right?), the girlfriend became close to hysterical and begged us not to. We became even more suspicious. She said she had called for a cab and it was on its way. Husband said she would have to wait outside our apartment if she didn't want us to call the police. So, she left, with the blanket. Of course, I kept an eye on her while Husband called the police.

The police officer came and still couldn't contact the boyfriend. Someone (I suppose a Korean man) came but he was definitely not driving cab but a Ford Taurus. So, the police officer had to let her go. Not wanting to leave me alone at home in case the insane neighbour returned and looked for trouble, Husband worked from home this morning. About 3 hours later, he noticed the Ford Taurus returned and left again. And we haven't seen the neighbour since.

What do you make of the situation? I think I have watched enough Law & Order, CSI, American Justice and Cold Case Files to start wondering if something deeper than just a relationship turning sour happened. I even bagged the mug in which I offered milk to her ... seriously, I did ... it is now in the laundry room!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Random Wednesday

I finished reading the sixth Harry Potter last week. I am curious to know ... when did you start crying over Dumbledore's final fate? I didn't cry until the funeral ... when Harry wondered where Dumbledore learned Mermish.

And what's the deal with all the teachers of Hogwarts being single?

Husband has the theory that the potion containing the fake locket is indeed the horcrux. This is why Dumbledore had to have Snape promise to kill him, thus part of Voldemort's soul. Interesting theory ... and probable too.

I post my recipe of Beef on Toast some time ago. I have several friends who, for whatever reason, don't eat beef. If you are among them, here is a variation:
Chicken on Toast - cut chicken breast into thin stripes and season them with salt and pepper and/or dried herbs (I use Italian Seasoning). Pan-sear the stripes on high heat (always use the non-stick Pam oil). For the sauce, mix 2 parts of mayonasise with 1 part of creme fraiche/sour cream and chopped parsley. This chicken version is even simpler in preparation.

I got my last sock club kit. The pattern is designed by Sivia Harding and is quite lovely ... but the problem is I need beads. I do have some Jaeger beads, just not the same colour tone as the yarn:
But I am thinking the combination of these two is actually quite good ... red beads with red yarns may just not show too well, right? What do you think?

This would be my graduation pair from the sock club. When I finish this pair, I would earn a GPA of 3.5 and the title of Righteous Sock Knitter ... hahaha ... :D I am still undecided whether to join the club again ... I'd like to work with other sock yarns.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Knitting with baseball bats

The US15 needles in my Denise Set have only been used once ... the project was not finished because I didn't like the yarn and the needles were just too big for me to handle. However, this time, I have to persevere because of this:
Isn't this lovely? The sleeve cuffs and the jacket hem are a bit flared using short-row shaping, making the jacket very feminine. So, even though I felt like knitting with baseball bats the whole time, I just have to go on because I really love to be able to wear this.

Talking about being able to wear, the jacket is not going to be a roomy fit. Actually, I need some pulling to bring the two fronts together when trying it on. But ... with some blocking and the zipper set in, it should fit. My wishful thinking, yeah. ;) I just wish I had a blocking board. You know, this is a bulky jacket and it wouldn't be a good idea to block it on the carpet, even with a towel ... moisture and mold and everything.

The sleeve wasn't sewn in yet. This is just the old trick to see if the sleeve cap fits okay. I just ordered the zipper. So, with a little push, I may be able to make this my last 2006 FO. :D

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Never boring

Have you started your Christmas decoration?
I don't think Husband would be very pleased with this mantle decoration! Hahaha ... so, once the picture was taken, it was back to the knitting basket. This is the start of the Diagonal-twist Princess-seam Jacket from Loop-D-Loop.

I have tried researching anything I could get about this pattern on the internet, but except some photos from the book, there is not much else. Either knitters who have made this don't keep a blog or webpage or not many knitters do make this. So I don't get too much help.

But my greatest problem is the gauge. I am using the same yarn used in the book, which should yield a gauge of 12 sts per 4" over Diagonal Twist Rib (see the photo below) using US10.5. Me? I am using US15! and the gauge is still a bit off ... on the smaller side.
I feel that this orange colour doesn't give the twist pattern as well as the yellowish colour in the book. However, I am still having fun working on this pattern. As with many Teva Durham's patterns, it's always interesting to work along and try to see how things would work out.

Now, my only worry is whether the jacket would fit well. But blocking should do the magic, I hope. ;)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sirens' Heart Gloves and Stranded

Maybe because I knew in advance that the Unst Lace Stole was not going to be an easy piece of cake, I wasn't too bothered by the false starts with the project. But I'd really love to thank you for the comforting encouragement. This definitely is one of the incentives for keeping this blog running ... I can share with you if I get successful, and I know I can vent a little if I screw up ... :D

So, I just browsed through the new Knitty patterns ... lots of colourwork, people. 2006 has been labelled "the year of the sock" ... I am wondering if 2007 would be "the year of colourwork"? Not to be the latecomer this time, I finished my first fair isle project:
(Did I look like holding out my hands to be cuffed by the law enforcement? Hahaha ...) They haven't been blocked yet. Since a storm system is coming our way, I am not sure if I would block them soon. Further, my definition of "finished" here is quite liberal. The gloves are done and all the loose ends weaved in. But they are not really finished in the sense that there are still lots of embellishment to be done if I want to get the really colourful gloves I see in the book. Right now, I tend to leave the gloves as they are ... since I find them quite lovely already.

Pattern: Sirens' Heart Fingerless Gloves designed by Mette N. Handberg from Norsk Strikkedesign
I think this is quite a famous Norwegian design pattern book and you can see all the patterns on the link above. The patterns are all so lovely that it is really hard to resist ... but it would be stupid to jump into a large project without knowing anything about fair isle knitting. So, I just got a small kit to try it out. Now I can tell you that I like it ... any maybe I'm ready for more. ;)
There is only one thing I don't like about the pattern instructions, which tell you to bind off the stitches and then pick up stitches later for the fingers. This doesn't sound too good to someone who really doesn't like picking up stitches. So I turned to Ann Budd's basic pattern book instead.
The original pattern has a "1998" on the palm side. It would make better sense to knit 2006 instead, but I want something else. So, I charted the word "love" ... and learned, after finished the first glove, that it was not a good idea to knit the word in the lower case. Therefore, I just knitted the second palm in black and red stripes. Simpler, you know.

Yarn: Rauma Finullgarn (100% Norwegian 2-ply wool) Colours: 436 (Black); 428 (Deep Red); 418 (Red)
On first touching this yarn, you may feel that they are rough. I haven't blocked the gloves yet, so I don't know if the yarn would soften after wash. However, when I was knitting the gloves during the very cold nights, I understood that this is a very good quality yarn which can really keep you warm. And strangely enough, I can get almost perfect gauge!

Gauge and Needles: 26 sts to 4" on US2; CP bamboo dpns US2 for glove palms, US1 for cuffs and fingers and US1.5 for binding off

Start date: 11-29-2006
Finish date: 12-07-2006

While browsing the knitting blogsland, I ran into this KAL and ... (hem hem) joined! This is a little bit get-to-know-you:

What are your projects for this knitalong?
My first planned project is the Sirens' Heart, which has been finished. It has been a really good trying out project for colourwork. Now, my next task to tackle is the Sashiko Jacket, not as colourful as the Norwegian designs, but one that I've been longing to do. Actually, I've started:

Is this your first colorwork project? If it isn't, what was your first, and has it survived the test of time?
My first colourwork project was an intarsia one using cotton yarns ... and it has been crazy with all those yarns hanging around. Fair isle is very different from intarsia ... and seems saner to me! hahaha ... Besides, working with wool helps keeping one's sanity too.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Be very careful with what you wish for

... because you'll get it alright! Remember I said I wanted something more "challenging" in my new lace project? Since I am not going to start the Forest Path Stole until February (yeah ... along with those of you who are also interested ... look out for the details next week ;)), I attempted the Unst Lace Stole, whose swatch you've seen. How was it going? These are two of the messes I got:
I am not a tiny bit exaggerating when I said I was frustrated. For one time, I went as far as Row 16 ... then one miss, I had to frog ... which was extremely difficult. I even resorted to straight needles, as I discovered that circular needles, the thin yarn and the thousands YOs don't get along well. Straight needles! But still, I couldn't even get past half of the pattern repeat. My gut told me that it was the yarn. I am just not up to the challenge of knitting with almost invisible yarn yet.

So, off to the stash the yarn goes! I had better get my fair isle gloves finished first as they would be useful immediately!

Friday, December 01, 2006

People, it IS exhausting!

I am talking about sewing. Not the sewing with the machine, but all those prep work. I spent a good portion of today cutting up the pattern paper, the fabrics, the lining and the interfacing. There is still a bit of cutting left to be done ... the cotton batting. I have to stop because I felt soooo tired. ::whew::

I am making this. I know ... it's an intermediate skill level project, so most probably I'll have to struggle along the way. But I really love to have something like that, none of which seems to be available ready made in the market. (Please don't tell me if it does exist ... I have cut up all the fabrics for sewing already! ;))

I also have problem using that rotary blade ... which doesn't seem to work well with lengthy stretch of cutting. I ended up using the scissors more.

The blue patterned fabrics would be the main one for the pillow and the others are for lining. They are all remnants I got cheap from Jo-Ann's. So, even if I am not successful, it won't be too costly. :D I am wondering how long this project would take me! Oh, how I wish I would get as good in sewing as Diana. Have you seen the coat she made recently?