Thursday, May 31, 2007

GAAA - Janet Martin Square

I just want to say ... you guys are really amazingly encouraging! I am a sampler afghan freak ... love them and think they are just beautiful. But you know, afghans take a long time to make ... and sampler afghans need just more work because of the seaming and finishing. So, chronicling the progress can be quite a drag. It is just surprising to have so much positive response. Thank you.

With all of you as the enablers, I managed to turn out another square:
This is a really lovely and beautiful design. The idea was based on Aran designs' link to fishermen: "I caught my fish in a net and added a couple of ropes since no fisherman would go out in a boat without a rope." Can you find all the elements mentioned? Very cute, isn't it? Very meaningful too.

Now, see this:
I totally stole this from dogged. It is good enough to hold a complete ball of Wool Ease. With this, I can knit from the centre of the ball and the mesh bag keep the yarn ball from collapsing out of shape ... the only drawback is if I have to rip, I need to rewind the yarn. I got 2 because the cherry tomatoes were on sale ... buy one get one free ... :D

Monday, May 28, 2007

GAAA - Really Picking Up Speed

I just noticed that I seem to work more efficiently on the afghan during the weekend. 3 more squares were done, and now blocked, during the Memorial Day weekend. I think twig is going to love the Barbara McIntire Square, am I right, twig? :D Actually I love that one very much too.

Ann Strong Square

Ada Fenick Square

Barbara McIntire Square

Other than these new squares, not much has been happening these days ... no new FO, no new project ... a rather boring scene for a blog, you can say ... hahaha ... But well, I can't keep starting new projects just for the blog ... though I have quite a long queue of things I'd like to make (and who doesn't?).

Hopefully, I can keep this 3-square-a-week pace and have all the 24 squares done in June. That would be wonderful!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Starting again and again

That was what had been happening here during this week. At a point, it was kind of frustrating ... but since I was determined to have the sock pal socks started this week, I just had to bite the bullet and continue until something came up.

Numerous books and patterns were explored and tried ... finally I decided that the yarn's colourway came out best in plain stitch. To ensure that the socks would be a good fit for my pal, I know I should go for something like a hugging rib. Ta-da! Undulating Rib from Favourite Socks:
The yarn is Tiny Toes in Renaissance from Interlacements. I LOVE this yarn ... it's soft, swishy, bouncy and very good to work with. I cast on again and again but the yarn is still staying like new. I hope my pal would like it too.

On an entirely different note, I saw Teva Durham's new book Loop-d-loop Crochet in Borders yesterday ... and boy! I almost bought it immediately! I shouldn't because I don't really crochet that much. But I feel very happy for crocheters because finally there are some really cool and fashionable patterns for them. I love love love the wrap featured on the book cover. Maybe I should put in a book-buy suggestion for my library! :D

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

One sleeve done

My stitch gauge with this project is alright, however, the row gauge is kind of off. The sleeve pattern should stop soon after the section with the white yarn runs out, but I had to knit an extra 35 rows to get the right length. So, I decided to wet block the sleeve. In order to do this, I need to weave in the ends. Tedious, but not too bad actually. Besides, there was the running stitch embellishment too, and that added some extra ends. Doesn't it look neater with the dividing running stitches between the various sections?

Before starting the second sleeve, I think I would do the embellishments on the body and wet block that too. Mmm ... it's getting close! :D

Monday, May 21, 2007

GAAA - Halfway Done!

Over the weekend, there was heavy bobble action here:

Ann McCauley Square

36 small bobbles and 25 big ones in one single square ... now that's something, huh? I don't really like knitting bobbles, but the big ones kind of like a popular cherry motif, which is cute. On the other hand, I always like intricate cable pattern such as this:

Dana Hurt Square

With these two squares finished, I am halfway done. As I have told you, this afghan is going to be a gift ... hmm ... with a deadline! So, I think I have to speed up a little bit more than one square a week.

See, this is why I hate having a deadline. I'm sure by now you pretty much know that I am quite a finisher. I do put pressure on myself in clearing up unfinished projects ... plus a deadline on top of that ... pain! Luckily, knitting this afghan has been enjoyable.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Victorian Ruby

So, once again I went missing most of this week. But I've been busy ... clearing the dust hidden in steep corners with my new handheld vac and cleaning the carpet with my new steamer. It's surprising that with some effective tools, one would even start not disliking doing housework! hahaha ...

Of course, I've also been knitting. Once I was into the dropped stitch section of the Victorian Ruby, I just worked on it during the scattering bits of time here and there. I thought it would take forever to reach the desired length ... but then who knows? All of a sudden, it was done! It is really lovely! My plan for this scarf is to be a gift for my grandmother-in-law. Like my mother-in-law, she loves red. I made a scarf for her a long long time ago, so I thought it was time for a second handknit gift. But I am not sure if mohair would be her thing. When I modeled the scarf for photos, well, I fell in love with this scarf! So, I think I would put it aside and decide later.

In the meantime, I would continue some other gift knitting. You may find that I didn't do much specific seasonal gift knitting. That's because I find it just too stressful, and thus not enjoyable, to knit under the pressure of having all the gifts done with a deadline, say, Christmas. I have several gifts planned and would just take my time working on them.

Pattern: Victorian Ruby designed by Jane Sowerby from Victorian Lace Today
I first saw this pattern in Knitter's Magazine and finally had the time to work on it. If you are looking for challenging lace work, this is not for you. But we all know that it doesn't need to be complicated to be beautiful. This is actually good tv knitting, other than socks.

Yarn: Feza Kid Mohair (85% Mohair, 8% Nylon, 7% Polyster) Col:569 Red
Less than 2 balls were used. I have used this yarn many times before ... love it. Besides, bright red scarves are always gorgeous.

Needles: Denise US7

Final measurements: 14" x 76" after blocking

Cast On: 04-17-2007
Cast Off: 05-16-2007

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Regia Canadian Socks

Sorry that I've been MIA last week. I've been struggling to finish my Regia socks ... and Bloggers seemed to have problem late last week anyway, so I figured I would just post when I am done with the socks.

I said "struggling" because I had to rip the first almost-done sock back to the end of the gusset decrease due to the too-much wiggle room in the toe section. Since I was using US0 needles already, changing to a smaller size just for the toe section didn't seem to be a good idea for me. The 72-stitch cast on is good enough to accomodate my big trunk of a leg, but I needed to go down to 68 stitches for the foot.

Pattern: 72-stitch cast on cuff-down sock pattern with the eye of partridge heel
This is my second pair of plain stocking stitch socks ... ever. I seldom knit plain socks ... but this time I found that it can be quite enjoyable ...

Yarn: Regia 4-ply Canadian Colours 4736 Ontario (75% Superwash Wool, 25% Polyamide)
I just checked on the web and found that there is a whole range of Canadian Colours in this Regia collection. I really like this Ontario colourway. Besides, the Regia yarn is a really pleasure to work with. It is nice on the hand and doesn't split like the Opal Uni ... softer too.

Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo dpns US0

Cast On: 04-26-2007
Cast Off: 05-12-2007

Now, I think I can concentrate on the Sockapalooza project. Yarns are chosen already ... once I read my pal's preference, I thought she would like this colourway:

Monday, May 07, 2007

GAAA - Carol Adams Square and sock knitting

May arrived without making much of an impression on me ... except when I finally checked the calendar and realized that I only have less than 3 months left for my pal's socks. If I only have this project to work on, 3 months seems to be more than enough. But we all know that is NOT the case. So, I need a little bit of mental planning here.

One thing I learned about myself from browsing other Ravelers' projects is that ... too many WIPs give me a cringe in my stomach. Just looking at some of them having eight, nine, ten ... or even more projects on the go made my blood pressure racing. So, I would do anything within my ability to limit the number of WIPs on my hand. One way to do it is not to start new project before finishing an old one.

That's what I'm planning to do. This means if I want to start the socks for my pal, I need to finish my Regia Canadian socks:
By the way, the more I work on it, the more I love this colourway. So pretty! See the beautiful heel flap? I always saw this on other people's socks and love it ... but thought it would be difficult. Well, it is actually super easy. It would be especially nice if the yarn pools because the alternate slipped stitch can break up the pooling. I aim at finishing the pair this week.

And one more afghan square:
This square seems to be ordinary ... but this is a reversible square! It's just amazing to see the wrong side of the cable is another beautiful cable, instead of the ugly crunched up purl stitches.

Now is something totally unrelated to knitting. I grew up being taught not to drink water from the tap. We always took the trouble to actually boil all our drinking water. After being here for 7 years, I did make a little bit of compromise. I still don't drink directly from the tap, nor do I boil my drinking water. I always use a filter. But whether the water is really safe has always been a question on my mind. A few weeks ago, I saw the consumer section of the local news and they introduced this product that enabled household water testing.
The water at my home is safe! :D

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Thank you, my Sockapalooza Pal!

So, keep it to yourself if you think I am silly, okay? Ever since I received the comment from my Sockapalooza4 Pal, I've been all giggling. How can I help it? My last pal has made me a fantastic pair of socks (and I love love love wearing them!), but for whatever reason, I didn't hear from her until very very late into the swap. So, all the time during Sockapalooza3, I was wondering if I would ever become an orphan. This time, I not only received a message from the pal already, he/she even told me my socks were going to be custom-designed! *happy dance* Thank you! :D

Sure enough, I have already contacted my other Sockapalooza4 Pal. Actually I have chosen the yarns for her ... but I don't have a single designer chromosome in my gene, so I would just choose a pattern that would go well with the yarn.

For the last 2 days, I hardly knitted a single stitch ... all thanks to Ravelry, which I am sure you have read enough of it around the knitting blogland. I love it. If you are a member, come and pay me a visit ... I've been organizing and browsing around all the time!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Gauge works in mysterious ways

In her comment on my last post, Joan expressed her concern over the problem of gauge in the Great American Aran Afghan project. Well, you have a good reason for that concern, Joan. The 24 squares were designed by 24 different knitters, plus the different stitch structures ... so you can imagine how the gauges of each would vary, and the needle sizes range from US5 to US8.

I started this project back in 2005 ... when I was not a knitter with a tolerance for re-starting. So, working on this was very frustrating. However, patience and tolerance can be acquired ... which I did gradually. I usually start with the needle size recommended in the book. I would be able to tell if my stitch gauge is correct when I am one-fourth through the square. When I am half way done, my row gauge would be established too. I just treat this as swatching for projects like sweaters. Just yesterday, I frogged half a square because the row gauge was too way off.

Half an inch to an inch is my margin of tolerance. I would prefer my square to be smaller rather than larger because I think blocking would help to get better results with smaller squares. Here is an uncropped picture of one of the squares:
The June Tailor Quilter's Board (found in Joann's) and the blocking wires are my best friends in blocking the squares. With the board, getting the exact measurements is a breeze. Though there is a downside to this board ... it is padded, so the wet squares (they are still wet no matter how hard you squeeze dry them, otherwise, there is no need for drying, right?) drying on it would leave water stains. I would leave the squares on like this for several days so that the size would be more stablized.

I haven't worked on the Sashiko Jacket these days ... still 15 rows away from finishing the first sleeve. But I am half way through the Victorian Ruby. One ball of Feza Kid Mohair gives me a 42" x 11" scarf. But I kept falling asleep when knitting the dropped stitch section ... I mean I literally fell asleep holding the project in front of the TV! :D I hope to get this section done as soon as possible.

Then, new sock on needles:
This is going to be a plain stocking stitch sock. I tried Roza's Socks pattern from the latest IK but didn't like how it felt. The colourway is really beautiful as is in stocking stitch ... so why not? Oh yes, see the dpn holder? I don't want to lose another needle again.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

GAAA - Hanna Burns Square

Since Husband has been obsessed with playing online games lately, we stayed home most of the time during weekends. The past weekend has been the same ... and this means lots of time fore knitting ... and other things. :D

First, I made a Quiche Lorraine with everything from scratch, including the pastry shell, for the first time:
As it turned out, the pastry shell is extremely easy to make with a food processor. I am going to experiment with other ingredients.

I am about 15 rows away from finishing the first sleeve for the Sashiko Jacket, but I think I will need to improvise a bit to lengthen the sleeve. The picture should wait until I finish, don't you think?

To keep the progress of the Great American Aran Afghan project, I try making at least one square every week. This is the latest one:
Another DNA-look-alike square, interesting!

Then this finally came:
Afer waiting for it for so long, I am dying to start Hanami ... but wait, Victorian Ruby is still not finished! *sigh*

Besides, I still have loads of pictures waiting to be uploaded to my photo blog! another bigger *sigh*