Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 Knitrospect

2007 is a year of quality to me. The number of projects I completed is smaller than previous years but looking back, I love each and every one of them. I spent no time on things that I found no or little use for me - gloves, bags, toys ... but maybe not the last one. Last night, I finished this little one:

It was an impulsive buy after seeing this. As a person who didn't grow up with stuffed animals or any sort of dolls, I seldom have the urge to make toys, but the felted knits from Crafty Alien are just too darn cute! However, I reached the conclusion that I don't have a good hand for small things!

Oh, back to 2007. I spent a great portion of the year on lace projects, so the report card on sweaters didn't look too good if not for the sweater frenzy in the last quarter. The final stats come like this:

1 Afghan and 1 Stuffed Animal

7 Sweaters/Jackets/Cardigans

Sweaters/Cardigans/Jackets 2007

8 Scarves/Stoles/Wraps
Scarves/Stoles/Wraps 2007

10 pairs of Socks
Socks 2007

But perhaps KnitLit's Best of 2007 meme is a more meaningful way to review a year in knits.

1. your best FO of the year
The first item is already a very tough one for me. I love everything I made in 2007. Gathering Intentions turns out to be a much more pleasant surprise than I have expected ... and the sweater is really lovely. The Forest Path Stole required patience and perseverance ... and my desire to possess the finished stole helped me on the way. The Sashiko Jacket is one of the many projects that I had coveted for a long time and a chance opportunity allowed me to get it sooner than expected. I was really happy with the finished jacket.
However, to pick the best FO of 2007, I would say finishing this has been one of my proudest moments:

The Great American Aran Afghan ... wonderful patterns, loads of things to learn and experience in the process and the afghan is simply beautiful!

2. best FO of the year made by a blog you link to
For this, I have 2 in mind. First is Merilyn's Stole designed by KnitSanity of Lace Maven ... it came in the time when I was in a lace fever and I was simply in awe ... it is just stunning.
Then it is Tuulia's Pohjan Neito Cardigan ... just take a look at the photos and you'll understand ... I can't resist beautiful cables.

3. best yarn you tried
I love mohair ... and so the best yarn I tried must be Artfibers' Tsuki, absolutely comparable to everybody's favourite Rowan Kid Silk Haze.

4. best new book/mag/pattern of 2007
I must confess I have only very vague idea of what year a book was published. As it turns out, many of the books I have in mind were published before 2007. Besides, to keep my apartment from exploding, I have been very selective in buying new knitting books. But Heirloom Knits is one that I consider to be a gem.

5. best new knitting technique or gadget you tried in 2007
I have never tried duplicate stitch before making the monogram on Husband's new socks, but I found that it is great fun. Oh, and I love making embroidery too.

6. top 5 inspirations--what five things inspired you the most over the past year?
It would be difficult to pick 5. But certainly one stood out to be the ultimate inspiration ... Ravelry. It has become the real knitting/crocheting patterns central for me. Having real people of different shapes and sizes wearing FOs from a certain pattern allows me to have a more realistic view of whether that pattern would look good on me.

7. designer who most amazed & inspired you throughout the year
Teva Durham remains the one designer that I admire most ... every time I opened her books, I couldn't help but fall in love with the designs I love all over again. Norah Gaughan comes closely behind ... there are still lots of designs I want to make from Knitting Nature.

8. knitting resolutions for 2008--what's next for you and your blog?
My resolution is very simple. I intend to do whatever that gives me great pleasure and satisfaction ... knitting is a hobby, a passion, not a job; so I don't intend to put unnecessary pressure on myself. But I do plan to face a challenge again ... to attempt the one project that I failed so many times last year ... the Unst Stole!

As a last note, I want to thank you all for the support in the last year ... either you are just visiting occasionally, lurking constantly, emerging to give occasional comments or always ready to write me a line or two, I appreciate and love you all! Wish you a wonderful New Year to come and see you in 2008!

A last FO

My sock mojo has been pretty low in the last couple of months. Yet, in an attempt to finish up as many WIPs as possible, I struggled to finish Husband's plain stocking stitch socks in the last few days. All those holiday tv program marathons helped me a lot. Maybe he was excited by the little monograms I put on the socks, Husband started playing around when trying on the socks ... and he even let me take photos! No no no ... not only that ... he even gave permission to use them! LOL!
Having Fun with Maizy Socks
The Crystal Palace Maizy yarn is an amazingly soft and comfortable yarn. Despite its splittiness, I love it a lot and would definitely use it again for my own summer socks. As it turned out, the most fun part was the monogram using duplicate stitch.

Pattern: Toe-up stocking stitch with short row heels
I used figure-8 cast on 16 stitches and eventually increased to 68 stitches. For the cast off, I sew the open stitches to the wrong side 2 rows down because this method produced the most non-tight ribbing in my experience. With wool yarn, this works well. However, with this non-wool yarn, you can see it tends to be a bit too loose. I would put elastic on the edge to help the socks stay in place.

Yarn: Crystal Palace Maizy (82% Corn Fiber - 18% elastic nylon) 2 balls Col: Corn
Just 2 words to summarize - love it! But I do think I like the solid colours a lot more!

Needles: Crystal Palace bamboo dpns US1

Cast On: 08-30-2007
Cast Off: 12-27-2007

Believe it or not, plain socks are the most difficult to knit! Hahaha ... I am not starting any new project before the new year comes. But don't worry, I have the Great American Afghan to entertain myself. :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I wanted to post last night but was totally wasted by the 2 glasses of champagne! :) After watching Le Pere Noel est une ordure, I literally had to crawl to bed, first thinking I just needed to lie down for a while ... which soon turned into a full-blown sleep!

Oh yes, about the movie. We watched it almost every Christmas. It is an extremely funny cult classic for those of us who are not easily offended. I especially like this scene as a knitter!

So, today is Christmas Day which will be spent quietly at home. I will be finishing a teeny-tiny fun project and the Maizy Socks. Thank you very much for the suggestions and encouraging comments on the Sashiko Jacket. I have been wearing it for the last 2 days ... and I really really love it. The yarns are indeed not intended for next-to-the-skin garments. However, if you have the magazine already, you can easily find substitute yarns as long as you can find 4 different shades of blue ... or you can get creative with the colours. What is hard to get now is the magazine. I found mine on eBay after a long time's search.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I wish you and your loved ones a happy and peaceful time.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Present

It is a good thing to keep track of when you start a project, really. Otherwise, I wouldn't have known that the Sashiko Jacket took me 13 months to finish. Yes, exactly 13 months! But one thing I am happy to say is that I am still very much in love with this pattern. I love the sashiko patterns, which can be clean but complicated at the same time. You have to admit, the patterns are very unique. I remember reading someone in Ravelry saying that she only wore a kimono-like jacket (pattern from Norsk Strikkedesign) she made once because it was too dramatic. I was thinking if I would feel the same with this jacket. While it is unique, the subdued shades of blues and grey make this jacket a lot more wearable.

However, I certainly hope that I hadn't screwed up my gauge so that I would get a longer jacket, instead of a cropped one. :) Yet, it is still longer than the Old Tile. So, here it is ... my Christmas present to myself:

Pattern: Sashiko Jacket designed by Noriko Sekiguchi (Interweave Knits Winter 1999/2000)
The design was a roomy jacket. So even though my gauge got tighter than it should be, the width still fits ... but the sleeves become bracelet length and the jacket is cropped. For the finishing, the instructions said "fold the hem to the wrong side" ... well, there was actually no mention of knitting the hem in all the previous instructions. This meant that if I wanted to have hems for the sleeves and jacket, they would become even shorter, or I had to do something else. Therefore, I needed to pick up stitches on the wrong side and knit 6 rows of stocking stitches for the hem. It worked out great ... actually better than knitting the hems at the beginning, in my opinion.

The hems are important because with them, the jacket looks a lot more professionally finished, not to mention the no more rolling edges.

What do you think? Is it too short?

Yarns: Rauma,3 ply Strikkegarn: #159 dark navy (MC), 5 (6, 6) skeins; #1387 charcoal (CC1), and #147 medium blue (CC3), 3 skeins each; #149 light navy (CC2), 3 (3, 4) skeins; #100 natural (CC4), 2 (2, 3) skeins
I got the project kit from the no-longer existing Destash Blog. If you want to have a warm jacket, this is a yarn you can consider ... yet a word of warning, it is not particularly soft to the touch.

Needle: Addi 3.5mm circulars

Cast On: 11-25-2006
Cast Off: 12-22-2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

All sorts of updates

I finally received my copy of Rowan 42! If you are a member, you should probably have known that the girl responsible for US Rowan membership is going to leave Westminster Fibers. I am just happy that my magazine arrived before that so I don't have to start communicating with a new personnel about an old problem.

How do you like this issue? The "Reflection" section completely doesn't work for me. Actually I am only interested in the cabled sweaters/cardigans in the "Tundra" section. I may really make Narvik ... very cute.

How about some free patterns? Tejemanejes, a Spanish online knitting magazine, has just released their second issue. I like the red stole and the mobius scarf. The hair net is pretty interesting too, but I don't have much use of it.

Resting on the ironing board is the neckband of the Sashiko Jacket:Since I wet blocked the jacket, logically I should wet block the neckband too, though the urge to just sew it on as I go was extremely extremely strong! In the meantime, I will just work on the loose ends.

The hacker saga has finally come to an end. I succeeded in recovering my eBay account. First thing of course is to have my email and password changed. After having tried for 4 days, I guess I have to accept the fact that my former Yahoo email is lost forever. Because of that, I have also lost access to my Flickr account. Just want to let you know that if you have bought the Flickr pro membership, make sure you make a copy of the receipt they sent you and keep it in your document folder, instead of just keeping the copy in your email account. If I had done so, I may be able to retrieve my pro membership.

Besides the Sashiko Jacket, I am aiming at finishing the Maizy socks before the arrival of 2008. Talking about socks, do you want to try a new heel style? Check this out.

Monday, December 17, 2007

How was your weekend?

Mine couldn't start in a worse way! Early Saturday morning, I got emails from eBay saying that I requested new password to my account. And of course that wasn't from me. Mid-week last week, someone listed items for sale under my account. It was detected by eBay and I immediately changed my password. I think that very same person tried again. Thanks to the eBay online help, I was able to put my account on hold. But I think somehow that person got control of my Yahoo email account and changed my password. So I lost access to my email account!

That started a panic in me as it was my primary email for a lot of online communications. I immediately cut off all links to that email. I felt extremely lucky that 3 months ago, to limit my impulsive online buying, I generated a random password (which is next to impossible to remember) for my PayPal account. ::whew:: Unfortunately, I am still unable to retrieve access to that account. I am not sure how vicious that hacker or hackers are but I feel I have the responsibility to protect all my contacts in that email. So, if you are reading this, please take a couple of minutes' time to block this email address from sending anything to you: Even if I could retrieve my access later, I would not use that account anymore. I apologize for what happened and the troubles that may be caused as a result.

I confess I had to bear a part of the responsibility. I had been really lazy in creating different passwords for my various online accounts ... theoretically, if you get hold of one password to one of my accounts, you can access almost all of them. But no more! From now on, I would generate new passwords for all important online accounts every month. It is indeed a pain ... but the feeling of your privacy being violated is so humiliating that the little trouble is actually worth the while.

To take a break from the nightmare, perhaps we go back to knitting, okay? I am one more step closer to finishing the Sashiko Jacket:The problem is the size of the jacket may be a bit smaller than it should be ... my tight gauge is again the culprit. But really, I love how it comes out. Next to do is to knit the button band ... and then the loose ends.

I think I do have a partial liking for intarsia colourwork. Why?Yes ... I am actually crazy enough to think of knitting the Old Tile Jacket again using wool. Right now, I am considering KnitPicks Palette.

Oh yes, there is also one lone Maizy sock done:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bad news and good news

Have this ever happend to you? Early in the morning, you notice a small thing is a bit wrong, and then things are just not going right the rest of the day?

Yesterday morning, I opened my Bloglines and Boom! There were over 5000 unread posts, including 200 from my own blog. What the hell was going on? Well, it was a just a small thing, so no sweat ... and the day went on with me doing Christmas shopping and seaming the Sashiko Jacket.

Last night, I finished the seaming and tried on the jacket ... another Boom! First, I mixed up the left and right sleeves. Yes, it is important because of the sashiko patterns. Second, I discovered I had lengthened the sleeves for nothing. It was only when I tried the jacket on that I found the lengthened portion created a bulky underarm area ... which was extremely unflattering to look at. So, you know what followed ... ripping, ripping, ripping. I decided to blame it on Bloglines! Hahaha ... The work will continue today.

On to happier news. For a very very very long time, I have been drooling over Hanne Falkenberg's designs, especially Diva. But the price has always succeeded in holding me back. :) Then one day, this sudden surfed onto my computer screen. I checked and checked and checked ... both my eyes and the prices ... just to make sure I was not "seeing things". It was not until the kit arrived that I really believed it:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The search for matching fabrics

Somehow I knew deep inside that it would happen this way. Just when I gave up the search and bought another white fabric for the quilt, the one I wanted "re-appeared" in the original store where I bought my first bolt!

I thought since I had to use a different fabric anyway, I bought something other than a solid white:Can you see the subtle floral pattern? From afar, it still looks like solid white. Cute!

This is my first quilt and I had no idea how to make the enlargement. But somehow I want the enlarged border to be of mitered corners. I didn't know how ... so I went ahead and did it my way:It looks best from this distance ... better not get too close! Ha! Now that the quilt top is really done, the next step would be the quilting ... which I am most nervous about. Everything is ready ... I have even bought a walking foot for the machine. I hope I can show you the finished quilt really soon.

I have also been busy with an old project ... the Sashiko Jacket. Both sleeves are done and blocked, so I went ahead and wet blocked the body:There are still a lot of finishing work to do ... but it's really getting close.

Just 2 weeks before Christmas ... today we received the Christmas present we bought for ourselves. We just finished setting it up and trying out all the basic functions. This baby is really cool! We have quite a collection of non-region-1 DVDs which couldn't be played on the locally bought DVD players. This player can play everything! Perhaps it would even vacuum! Okay ... that's daydreaming. :)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

I just want to rant a little bit

Am I the only one who is still waiting for the membership copy of Rowan 42? And the Welcome gift? When I asked the US representative about this 3 weeks ago, she said she would send my copy ... which still hasn't arrived yet. When I expressed my concern, she said "we are doing everything we can to make sure the problem is improved". Well, the problem hasn't improved, my magazine is still missing and the Welcome gift is still backordered ... talk about being welcomed! I really really think this is ridiculous! Perhaps Rowan should re-consider what promises they give to prospective members instead of giving out empty ones.

I am not one who complain a lot, but this is really getting on my nerves.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I'm sure mine would win

I'll tell you what of mine would win what in a moment. First, update of the quilt progress ... not much ... due to the shortage of materials. Once again, everything would be fine if I didn't enlarge the size. I bought 8.75 yards of Egyptian Cotton in white for the quilt. I would have bought 10 ... but that was all there was in the store.

I went to another store looking for the fabrics ... no luck. So, I am going to try another one today. If the bad luck continues, I'll have to settle for Kona Solid. We'll see. In the meantime, I used the scraps to make the stuff bird from the book. I'm telling you, if there is a contest for the ugliest stuff bird, mine would definitely be a winner:I tried looking at it from another angle ... still ugly:I'm so sorry, Joelle! But I'm going to try again ... practice makes perfect, isn't that right?

Now back to knitting. Though I have no new projects to show you, I'd like to share some project inspirations. The Japanese bookstore has become quite a dangerous place to step into ... there are always things luring you to break your wallet! I got this:I like both! But that's not the end:
Aren't they all cute? Oh ... there is one more gorgeous aran cardigan from this magazine:

So many lovely patterns, so little time! ::sigh::

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The top is partially finished!

If I am not enlarging the size, then the top can be considered finished! There were, and will be, lots of doubts along the process. There will also be quite some cheating when quilting ... but it's my first quilt anyway. I am happy with it so far.

About the plan for enlarging the size ... I have decided to make the extra size using the white cotton and choose a patterned fabric for the binding. This way, I think I can get the best of both versions I showed you last time. Time for batting shopping.

One day's work

Will continue this weekend. Hopefully I will get the top done ... that is if the coloured arcs can match decently with the white portions.