Monday, February 26, 2007

Learning something new

This was taken last Thursday, one day before I took part in this year's Stitches West. I thought, once again, this was going to be a rainy Stitches. However, to my great delight, the sky cleared up on Friday and we actually had a beautiful day.

For the first time, I took a class in Stitches. Many "hot" classes were full very early, but I found one that sounded very interesting to me ... Norwegian Knitting. It couldn't be a better one for me ... I learned a lot. First, I learned to knit in the continental way. It is not that I don't know how to do it, but out of habit, whenever I pick up the needles and knit something, I would do it in the way I used to ... the English way. So, in the class, I was forced to use the way I was not used to. I am sure with more practice, I would do better. I am thinking I would knit a square in the continental way for the Blanket of Hope.

Then, I learned a lot of the basics of Norwegian knitting ... stranding 2 colours using both hands, the difference created by holding 2 colours with different hands, steeking ... etc. But the most important of all, and of the most relevance to my current project (the Sashiko Jacket), is how to trap yarns on both hands. This is important to the knitting of the jacket's sleeves because the long floating of yarns on the wrong side would great problem, especially in the sleeves.

Of course, Stitches was also the designated free day to buy yarns. But this was a bit of a disappointment to me. What I wanted to get most was Wool-Ease for my Great American Aran Afghan. However, Jo-Ann was having a sale on Wool-Ease, so almost all colours were gone, not to mention the Natural Heather I wanted. And then, the one Micheal's convenient to me was closed down ... and I just discovered that day! But I did get some silk lace and sock yarns from Tess' Designer Yarns ... and almost all the sock patterns by Cookie in the Stitches Market.

Lastly, I did make great progress on the Forest Path Stole:
Just finished the 10th tier last night! Yay yay yay!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Which pair would you choose?

Imagine this - all your socks are available in front of you ... not a pair is in the hamper, all fresh and clean. Do you just grab a pair randomly? Have you ever noticed you always tend to reach for the same pair? When I start to pay attention, I realize that I have a preference ... the 3 Lion Brand striped socks. Surprise? They are definitely not in the buttery soft category. They are not so beautiful that would make you wow (but not too bad either and I do love the green and blue ones). Then, why?

I have thought about this. Maybe it is because I know they can stand hard wash in the washer longer. Or I know if they are worn out, I can always (as long as Lion Brand doesn't discontinue this line) get another ball of the same yarn and have another pair. For the others, I always have the idea that once they are gone, they would be gone forever. To get advantage of the sock mojo's comeback, I cast on for another Lion Brand pair:
This is the Bright Spring colourway.

I am concentrating on the Forest Path Stole knitting since I have finished the body pieces of the Sashiko Jacket. I have even sewn them all together:
My motivation for knitting the sleeves is a bit low at the moment. I was even tempted to give them up altogether and just have a Sashiko Vest. Nothing serious, just a fleeting thought. The jacket of the original design is definitely the ultimate goal to go for, I think.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Beaded Rib Grey Socks

Finally I got my first pair of socks for this year done! This may be my personal record for socks. I think one reason is the yarn ... the Opal Uni is soooo thin! Really, almost feels like lace weight! Plus the long foot and leg ... oh my! But I am happy happy that the socks are done and most importantly, they fit.

Pattern: Toe-up Beaded Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks
I started with a 16-stitch easy toe and increased stitches until there are 80. I read about all these different ways to cast on for toe-up socks and thought I had to try them out to really know which one was best for me ... and oh, now I know I don't like easy-toe! :) The same with the Middle East cast on from the latest IK.

Yarn: Opal Uni Grey (75% Wool, 25% Polyamide)
This is my first time using Opal yarn and my feeling is that it is not that different from the sock yarns I got from Elann. If I compare it with Socks That Rock yarns, of course the Opal yarn is a lot less soft and smooth. But I expect it to behave like the Elann sock yarns - soften significantly with wash and extremely durable. So, though it tends to be a bit splitty, I have no complaint.

Gauge and Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo dpns US0 for foot (10 sts for 1") and US1 for heel and leg.

Start Date: 11-04-2006
Finish Date: 02-17-2007

As I have told you before, I wanted to make the entrelac knee socks from the latest IK. And I did. However, after knitting up to the first tier of rectangles, I realized it was not a very good idea ... at least not for me. The selvedge edges that would go to the inside of the socks ... wouldn't that make it uncomfortable on the sole?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentine's Day

The photo editing software was installed but I still have problem using it in Mac OSX (?) ... so did the editing in Windows. Here is the square I knitted for Rebekah's Blanket of Hope project:
It is a pattern from Leisure Arts' 60 Easy-t0-Knit Pattern Stitch called Cabled Checks. I found it very cute.

Today is Valentine's Day. Husband once said he would still love me the same way if I trashed his car. I know how much he loves his car. That's the best proof of love for me. Not that I am ever tempted to do anything close to that, but the truth is accidents did happen to things around me, so it's comforting to know. :)

We don't celebrate Valentine's Day, but if you do, I wish you a romantic and memorable one.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Random Tuesday

Over the weekend, Husband bought a Mac Book ... I joked that we have turned to the dark side! We, or to be exact, only I at the moment, are in the process of moving things out of the retiring laptop to the new guy. And I also have to learn my way around the Mac ... and install the photo editing software, which is tricky and thus has to be done by Husband. So, I don't have any photos for today.

I have switched to the new Blogger for quite some time. So far, I like it ... except that I haven't figured out how to add my own blog title photo. Besides, it seems it now becomes impossible to have HaloScan comments together with the Blogger comments. So, I have to dump HaloScan.

My sewing hasn't gone anywhere yet. But I think I finally found a sewing book that talks to me. When I have the photos ready, I'll share my favourite projects from the book with you. Right now, I am also waiting for another sewing book to come.

I made progess in the Forest Path Stole ... despite a little setback over the weekend. I made the big mistake of using the KnitPicks dpns as stitch holders. For one moment, I forgot to put a stopper back and there you go ... several stitches got loose and freed themselves! Though it was only a few stitches, the way entrelac panels are linked to one another forced me to frog 4 of them! But I am back on track now ... in the middle of the 6th Tier to be exact. Honestly, this stole pattern is really not complicated at all ... and thus can be quite relaxing knitting for watching tv.

I am also eager to finish the twin sock for Husband ... as I really really want to make the gorgeous entrelac knee socks from the latest IK.

Finally, Rebekah is collecting knitted squares to make a Blanket of Hope for Sonya's Husband. I just made one yesterday. Once it is dried from blocking, it'll be on its way to join the others. Do you think you have time to knit one? If so, you can read about it here.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Blogging is therapeutic

It's true. After the last post, I picked up the gray sock on the needles and thought I should be able to do something. So, that night, I forced the victim the recipient to try it on ... and he was forced pleased to tell me that the sock fitted alright!

So, I picked up what was left to be done and finished the sock. Yes! Finished!

When I started this sock, my major concern was to find a way to make a really stretchy cuff. I was never totally happy with the elastic experiment. First, the colours didn't match. Second, there is always the possibility that the elastic gets lax.

And this was when I felt maybe the holding up of the sock was a blessing. I love how the neckband of Husband's sweater was done because it gives a nice stretchy finish. Then, why not use it on the sock cuff? Only that I had to whip stitch the live stitches really really close ... maybe just 2 rows down:
What you see here is the sock turned inside out because that made the sewing a lot easier. When it was done, it looks like this:
So far, I am happy with it. What is left to be done is for the recipient to try it on again.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Where is my sock mojo?

One month into 2007, but I haven't finished a single sock yet! I have one sock on the needles ... very close to finish:
The pattern is "Beaded Rib" from Sensational Knitted Socks. I started from the toe ... give it a couple more inches and the sock would be done. But something seems to be holding me back ... I have the feeling that the leg would be too tight ... and then I questioned myself why I didn't knit the foot in plain stocking stitch ... And then I once made a self mental note that I shouldn't start a new sock project before finishing this pair. So now, I am kind of self-inflictedly stuck! hahaha ...

But on a happier note, 2007 seems to be a year for the sweater/jacket/cardigan for me:
110 rows for the Sashiko Jacket left front. I am feeling more and more excited approaching the end of this project. Of course it's still a bit early now, but the knitting has been such a pleasure that I went past the half way mark without being aware of it, so I felt that the end won't be too far away.

Here is a close up shot of the pattern. It seems that the simpler pattern pops out better on close up than the more complicated one:

To close today's post, I recommend you all to read Kerstin's post today if you want to know how to have a healthy and sexy blog life!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Walking down the Forest Path

Isn't it romantic? But it is going to be a really looooong walk, mind you. The seed stitch is not the most pleasant stitch to work, but I sucked it up anyhow. 20 rows 141 stitches each ... lace weight yarn ... I was just eager to get past the seed stitch border and triangles so that I could work on the rectangles with the lace patterns. And there is where the fun lies ... and beauty too:
I do hope I am doing it right ... and it seems so. I tried my best to stretch out the piece for you to see the lace ... from left to right are "Fern", "Birch" and "Lily of the Valley". The last one includes the knitting of nupps ... that is knitting into the same stitch 5 times on the right side and then purl the 5 stitches together on the wrong side. This can be a really tough one but with the right needles, it would just be a breeze. For me, the right needles are the KnitPicks Classic circulars. Thinking that the KnitPicks dpns would be as pointy as the circulars, I ordered a set. However, it was not the case. So, I ended up using the circulars for the major knitting and one dpn as the stitch holders for the idle live stitches:
Though it is not really that hard to keep track of where I was, I still marked my position on the pattern ... just in case, you know. :)