Wednesday, June 27, 2007

GAAA - Ginger Smith Square ... and ... whew!

So, this is one of the moments I've been waiting for anxiously. I just washed and pinned out the last square:
The biggest moment has yet to come. I felt so good that I had the mood to sew up the first 20 squares earlier. Each square is 12" x 12" ... and there are 6 x 4 squares. That means I have to knit a border at least 240" long. I am not sure how long that would take me, but I tend to exaggerate the time I need so that at any chance I could finish quickly, it would really feel even better. Strategic ... LOL!

I consider myself right on schedule with the afghan, so now I have a little breathing room for other projects. First priority is of course to finish the second sock for my sock pal (haven't forgotten her ... actually, always have her on my mind ... hahaha ... ). Talking about not forgetting ... do you still remember the Sashiko Jacket? I got myself all prepared for the last big piece:
Yeah, this is not a project that you can start impromptu; you need good preparation to ensure smooth satisfying knitting.

Besides, there is the Mystery Stole 3 coming this Friday. I have been really pathetic in my last 2 mystery projects. I couldn't bring myself to read the charts in Mystery Shawl. The yarn I intended to use for Mystery Stole 2 never arrived (my first experience of yarns lost in the mail!) ... I didn't even get to swatch. I have trained myself to knit from charts and I have the yarn right here in my stash. KnitPicks Shadow in Sunset (thank you, Rebekah!) using Denise Needles in US5:
Since I just finished a black stole not long ago, I decided to deviate from the suggested colours (black or white) for the mystery theme. I like this more than those using US3 and US4.

The only problem now ... I am wondering when I would be able to get into the Yahoo!Group server on Friday ... imagine over 3000 people all trying to download the files around the same time!

Monday, June 25, 2007

GAAA - Betty Salpekar Square ... and it really is difficult

To summarize my feelings towards this square: love it when looking at the pattern book's photo, hate it when knitting it, love it again when looking at my own finished square!
If you don't like grafting and weaving in loose ends, maybe you should consider carefully whether to make this square. But it is a good challenge. Besides, I really love the Celtic knot in the centre (a cover decoration on Alice Starmore's The Celtic Collection, according to the designer). So, something unusual and unique always comes with a price. The zillion loose ends can really drive one crazy!

It would also be a good idea to leave this square for the later stage of the project when you would have a better idea how you tension works out with the needles and the yarn. The measurements of the centre square is not given, so I was a bit in the fog as to how my gauge worked out. But after working for so long with the yarn and other squares, I did have a rough idea.

Now, I am on to the last square!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

WTF Saturday

I should know ... it is not labelled "the most difficult" for no reason:Don't think that it was done ... that was only the centre section.

Now this is better!

I am glad that I decided to tackle the difficult one first.

Friday, June 22, 2007

GAAA - Surprise Surprise

Current status of the Great American Aran Afghan: there are still 2 squares remained to be done. But there was progress ... surprisingly, I should say.

Usually, the weaving in ends and sewing up of individual squares are the least fun jobs to me. Not this time. I just started with trying to tidy up the loose ends as a break from the knitting. Soon, I found myself sewing up the squares into stripes ... then into an afghan:
To save the excitement of revealing the final FO for later, what you see here is the wrong side. I remember reading somewhere (this link belongs to a very prolific knitter who offers a wealth of her insights and experiences) that "the wrong side is just as important as the right side" ... which I totally agree. Since this afghan is going to be a gift, I paid extra attention to such details, hoping to have a blanket really presentable:
I think I can attribute the ease of sewing to the fact that I cast on 60 stitches for most of the squares. The numbers of casting on given in the patterns are quite random, varying from 48 to 61. I made the decision of using 60 stitches for all the squares (except those knitted in the round or with special constructions) ... and this made the sewing really a breeze.

If you think the squares are beautiful on their own, wait until you see them being sewn together! Well, at least I was extremely amazed at how the sewing helps to stretch and even out the irregularities amongst the various squares.

Right now, the 2 remaining squares are vastly different ... one is the most difficult ("Betty, what were you thinking? Betty uses some techniques that should be banned!" ... a quote from Susan Rainey, the 1st prize winner) while the other is among the easiest. Which one would you leave for the last?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

GAAA - Only 2 squares left ... and I made an aran sweater in one day!

I know it is hard to believe, but I did really finish making an aran (with bobbles and cables and all that) sweater on Saturday. I even have proof ... Dino here is wearing it:
Okay ... so it's only the front of a mini-sweater, but still a sweater, and I only need the front! It is for the Susan Rainey Square, which was the 1st prize winner of the GAAA design competition:
I have often dreaded the knitting of this square. It was fun making the mini-sweater, but the stockinette stitch square is very often the turn-off for me.

Still remember the "pain-in-the-butt" square? Here it is:
The Patt Tanton Hewitt Square is another one I deliberately kept to the last. Visually, the square is so crowded with the fat cables and bobbles that I felt suffocated. Knitting-wise, having used to making cables without cable needle for so long, I found it really exhausting to have to use 2 dpns plus a cable needle just to make one cable twist:
On top of that, the cable twists and bobbles always seemed to pop up on rows I least expected them to ... and that meant frogging back! Aargh!

Therefore, it is really a soothing sight to have these in the patio:
Yes! It just seems a dream come true ... right now, there are four big heads already and I can see another two plus some smaller ones are gradually opening.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Random Friday

1. Having worked through most of the Great American Aran Afghan, I don't remember really disliking any one of the patterns ... that is until now. The one I'm working on is really a pain ... I just want to get past it ASAP.

2. Have you sponsored Claudia on her MS Ride this year? She's been parading the prizes for weeks ... and you still have one week to do that. She is riding her butt off for a good cause and what you and I have to do is the sweatless easy part ... and we got to have prizes! That's sweet ... so go and show your support. Your contribution would help bring about hope like this to happen sooner.

3. I am so looking forward to the coming Monday ... new season of The Closer! I love this show ... and I love her accent! :D

4. For the last week, the first thing I did after I got out of bed was to examine these:
These are container sunflowers which I grew from seeds ... they are really easy to grow. As with most sunflowers, they grow and bloom fast. I am hoping they would bloom more or less the same time ... that would be a very cheerful sight!

I am off to tackle that pain-in-the-butt square now ... wish you all a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

GAAA - Jay Campbell Square ... and how do you wash your handknits?

Francesca said I was a brave woman trusting the washing machine with my handknits ... really? The fact is last year, I ruined an expensive sweater (100% alpaca store-bought) of Husband's by handwashing it! It was machine knit but the alpaca yarn was extremely thin ... very much like lace weight. The label said handwash or dry clean ... so I tried handwashing it myself. After the sweater was dried, I discovered there were places where the yarn broke. It was my fault ... I should have brought it to the cleaner ... the alpaca was just too delicate. I might have ruined it while handling it when wet ... the weight of a wet sweater would be 10 times heavier than dry. I couldn't bring myself to tell him and he didn't ask ... maybe he didn't remember he had such a sweater, or he knew in his heart its fate and this is just one more incident showing things are not safe around me! LOL!

This year, I did a lot better. All the sweaters were safely washed and shapes retained. Basically, I just used the tub of the washing machine (a top loader) for soaking and rinsing the sweaters. After enough water was let into the tub, I stopped the machine and let the sweaters soak in soapy or clean water for 10 minutes. After rinsing, I turned on the machine again to drain the water, put the sweaters into laundry mesh bags, turn to the spin setting and let it spin for 5 minutes, stopping the machine to check every one minute or so. Before laying them flat to dry, I did a final squeeze with a dry towel.

There are still a couple of sweaters needed to be dry-cleaned. I am going to experiment the Dryel Home Kit.

Now, the GAAA square. I have just finished the 20th square. The Jay Campbell Square is another one knit in the round ... and it is one that demands some serious hardcore blocking:
Its similarity in shape to a hat freaked me out a bit at the beginning! Luckily, once again, trustworthy wet blocking did its magic:
Just 4 more to go!

Monday, June 11, 2007

GAAA - Georgia Vincent Square ... and Spring Cleaning ... and change!

I don't know why I made the change ... but I just did. From now on, the comments here would be done by HaloScan. All the past Blogger comments have disappeared but I have saved each and everyone of them. I hope this would make it easier for you. So, if you have something to say, don't be shy! :D

One big relief: I finally finished washing all the winter sweaters last week. In the past, whenever I thought of having to do that, my head would balloon in size! In the last apartment where we lived, laundry was done using coined machines in the common laundry room. I never knew how to set the washing machine just to spin ... and am still wondering if that could be done on coined machines. But now I have the machines inside the apartment, things get A LOT easier. With the help of the spinning, even the very bulky sweaters can get dry within a much shorter time! We are going to have fresh clean sweaters when winter comes ... yay!

My knitting energy level dropped during the past weekend. I did knit ... but it seems not much was being done. Anyhow, there is one more GAAA square:

The Georgia Vincent Square was knitted in the round. It was all good until the last few rows. Since I didn't have dpns in US8, I had to make use of the Denise cables and needles to finish this square ... quite a pain ... and you can see that the last few yos turned into LARGE holes! From the above photo, it seems that this square has nothing special. Yet, it is the most beautiful one in the whole set to me ... you just have to look at it from a different angle:

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Mmm ... I have a little problem here

There should be no problem with the sock ... I made it to the measurements given by my pal, and with the elastic ribbing pattern, it should fit alright:

So, what's the problem? I LOVE this sock! I love the yarn ... it is comfortably soft and a real pleasure to work with ... the colourway is strong and beautiful. I love the pattern ... it hugs snugly on the foot and leg ... and the little nupps created by the inc2 and dec2 stitches are cute.

It is a good thing that I am knitting for a pal whose foot size is different from mine ... hahaha ...

Monday, June 04, 2007

GAAA - Only 6 left

With the number of squares left to be knitted getting smaller and smaller, I have to start tackling the more difficult ones. The Kathleen T. Carty Square (a.k.a. 3rd-time-is-the-charm square) is such difficult one:
The way to work this square is you knit the outer square frame back and forth, graft the cast-on stitches with the end stitches to form the square, then pick up stitches along the inside of the square for the center panel. I casted on 3 times for the outer frame. First, I forgot to use chain cast-on for later grafting need; second, I didn't find out my gauge was too large until 2 corners of the square were done. Then, finally I finished the outer frame and was ready for the grafting last night. Again, I didn't succeed until the 3rd time. First, I didn't know how but I got one extra stitch on the cast-on edge, so the alignment of the cables was screwed. Then, at 11:30p.m., I found myself looking at this:
Charming! A real trial of patience!

Before the weekend, I also finished the Dagmara Berztiss Square, which I consider one of the most beautiful ones in the set. The central theme is the designer's interpretation of the Latvian moon cross:

Now, I only have 6 more left ... amongst which 3 promise to be quite difficult! I think I'll take a little break from the afghan and tackle my Sockapalooza socks this week ... I don't want to fail my pal.