Monday, December 31, 2012

End 2012 with ... Blings!

Totally unexpected.  I tried several beads and crystals I had on hand last night, and nothing worked.  So I thought this was not going to happen.

But it did!  Since I needed to get some more cheese for tonight's fondue (no turkey nor roast chicken tonight ... we are going to have cheese fondue!), I paid a quick trip to Michael's and got some 4mm glass silver round beads.  Just what I need for the finishing.

Being a total sucker for silk/mohair lace yarn, I was immediately attracted to the Whisper Cowl pattern.  Very simple construction ... all knit stitch in the round.  After all the decreasing rounds, it's just straight knit to the desired length.  What makes it special is the bling ... so if I couldn't find the right beads, there is nothing special to show.

Please excuse the double chin!
 I love it!  Just a coincidence ... it goes so well with the Autumn Rose Pullover!

From experience, I know a VERY STRETCHY CAST OFF is extremely important, otherwise, either I can't get my head through or my head can't get out of the cowl.  Not a good way to spend New Year's Eve figuring that out!  This tutorial from Jeny Staiman (Knitty 2009 Winter) saved me the trouble.  See how loose the bind off is:

Besides, I used a needle 4 sizes larger to do the bind off.  Now my big head can get through easily.

Pattern: Whisper Cowl by Amy Micallef
Yarn:  Artfibers Tsuki (40% Silk  60% Superkid Mohair) Color Olive green
Needles:  Audi US4, Takumi Bamboo DPNs US8
Notes:  Using this yarn makes the cowl is super airy but also super warm, perfect for the protection I need when wearing a pullover with low neckline.  :-)  If you love Rowan Kidsilk Haze (I am a fan), I recommend you try Artfibers' Tsuki ... equally lovely.  They are back in San Francisco, so next time you visit SF, remember to try their yarntasting.
Cast On:  12-28-2012
Cast Off:  12-31-2012

Just before the end of 2012

Warning - this is going to be a rather long spring cleaning post.  Yeah, I dug a little more into my FO closet.

Thanks to my keeping an actual physical knitting project notebook, I was able to trace back several FOs I made in 2010.  It turns out I did quite a bit of knitting in 2010 ... and managed to squeeze in a few in the last couple of months in 2012.  Not as bad as I thought.  :-)

Let's start with hands and feet.

Pattern: Kaiso by Judy Sumner
Yarn:  On Your Toes Bamboo by S.R. Kertzer (75% wool 25% nylon) Color Light green
Needles:  Darn Pretty Needles US 2
Notes:  Easy fun pattern to make.  The yarn feels thicker than fingering, so the knitting went really fast.  However, the bamboo yarn is definitely durable to wear.  The time I took these pics, the socks look pretty worn out and old already. 
Cast On:  04-21-2010
Cast Off:  04-24-2010

Pattern: Cashmere Wrist Warmers to Knit by Inna Voltchkova
Yarn:  Frog Tree Aplaca Wool Fingering (100% Alpaca) Color Yellow
Needles:  Darn Pretty Needles US1
Notes:  Are these just pretty?  I was determined to make them when I saw them on Pieceworks cover, even though I am not much a wrist warmers user.  But wearing these under a coat feels very feminine and elegant.  The Frog Tree Alpaca is SUPER soft and warm ... very lovely yarn.  Though I wouldn't use them to make socks ... definitely not hard wearing, too delicate for socks. 
Cast On:  05-06-2010
Cast Off:  05-08-2010

Pattern: Wine & Roses Mitts by JoLene M. Treace
Yarn:  Sundara Yarn Sock Yarn (100% Merino) Color Lantern Rose
Needles:  Darn Pretty Needles US1.5
Notes:  Another beautiful inspiring pattern, the type that makes you want to make it immediately the moment you saw it.  I used them quite a lot the last 2 winters, especially in the morning when I had to drive the husband to work.  The steering wheel is always super cold and these kept my hands warm.
The Sundara Yarn was from an early sock club.  Lovely colorway and the yarn is soft.  Would like to try it on my feet some day. 
Cast On:  05-06-2010
Cast Off:  05-08-2010

Next up would be sleeveless tank top for summer ... and I happened to have made TWO!

Pattern: Isabella by Jordana Page
Yarn:  Brown Sheep Cotton Fine (80% Cotton, 20% Wool) Color Emperor's Robe
Notes:  I was a bit hesitant about this pattern at first ... because the neckline seems a tack too low.  But I didn't make any changes and it turned out okay.  It is hard to make the neckline lace stay flat ... but who cares? 
This was my second time using Cotton Fine to make summer top and I absolutely love this yarn.  The Emperor's Robe is a ver;y smart color and I love wearing this.
Cast On:  07-04-2010
Cast Off:  08-13-2010

Pattern: Full Circle by Sarah Wilson
Yarn:  Lion Brand Cotton Ease (50% Cotton, 50% Acrylic) Color Strawberry Cream
Notes:  This is a comfortable tank top, but I must say it looks better on the magazine. 
Cast On:  05-10-2010
Cast Off:  06-30-2010

In 2010, I also put an end to a project that had been dragging for years.

Pattern: Heirloom Afghan by Darla Sims (Crochet)
Yarn:  Bernat Cottontots Solid (100% Cotton) Color Pretty in Pink/Sunshine/Sweet Green
Notes:  There are altogether 63 crochet stitch patterns in the booklet.  I started the project in 2005 (!) and it carried on for 5 years.  I know from the beginning that crochet is not really my thing, but I wanted to learn.  What's better than learning from a sampler afghan?  Looking back now, I think the yarn choice might have contributed to the eventual abandonment of the project.  The Cottontots is a really thick pure cotton yarn ... kind of hard to handle in crocheting.  Also the cotton's lack of elasticity made the squares hard to align.
I managed to finish 32 squares.  First I joined them into a long 4 squares by 8 squares piece.  Then I joined the top to the end and form it into a big tube.  The size seems right to be a bathroom rug ... so this is how I am using it now.
If you are interested in the individual stitch patterns, you can see them here or here.
Cast On:  February 2005
Cast Off:  2010

On New Year's Day of 2010, I started a project which would be one that I still feel really proud of today:

Pattern: Autumn Rose Pullover by Eunny Jang
Yarn:  Knit Picks Palette (100% Wool)
Notes:  Absolutely stunning pattern, very feminine design.  I especially love the 3/4 sleeve-length.  The shaping of the waist makes it a very figure-flattering design.  Considering my muffin-top has expanded in size considerable this year, the pullover still fits pretty well.  The plunging neckline is another feminine touch ...
Palette has become one of my favorite yarns.  it is affordable, soft and warm.  With the enormous choices of colors available, this is the first yarn I would have in mind for a fair isle project.  The yarn also holds up well to wear.  I have been wearing the pullover often in the last 2 winters and the pilling is acceptable.  The pics above were taken a couple of weeks ago.
Cast On:  01-01-2010
Cast Off:  04-14-2010

We can skip over 2011 ... knitting was minimal, not to mention finishing.  That's also true for most of 2012 ... but the crafting mojo made a comeback in the last 2 months.

Pattern: Storm Sky Lace Cowl by Eaden Yarns
Yarn:  Three Irish Girls Westerly Sea Sock (70% Merino, 30% Plant fiber)
Notes:  This is a gift for a dear friend.  Since I haven't knitted for so long, I picked a simple pattern so that I could be sure to finish in time for Christmas.  Simple is beautiful.  The buttons added beautiful accent to the cowl.
The yarn is gorgeous in this colorway ... something that gave you joy even on a grey rainy day.  It is also very nice to work with ... and according to my friend, it's warm too!
My friend loves it.
Cast On:  12-06-2012
Cast Off:  12-08-2012

Surprisingly, I'm going to end the list with a sewing project.  Another friend had a baby just a few weeks ago.  I made a swaddle blanket for her:

What is a swaddle blanket?  Without baby in the house, I can only borrow Tweety to be model:

This type of blanket is especially good for newborns because it can hug them tightly, giving them security.  I added a cotton lining to the blanket to make it look more neat.  I also made the binding myself ... which turned out to be the most time consuming.  The greatest challenge to me is binding the curves.

Pattern: Swaddle Blanket from Fabric by Fabric One Yard Wonders
Fabrics: 1 yard flennel print from Joanne's; 1 yard cotton print from stash; 28" x 28" blue fabric from stash for binding

Finally, the FO closet is cleared.  :-)  See you in 2013!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sock Blockers tutorial

I guess all of us made it through the Mayan Apocalypse! ;-) So let's keep the stash growing and the knitting going, shall we?

Giselle from the Sock Knitting community on Google+ asked me about my sock blockers.  It was something I learned from the internet.  Personally, I don't really block my socks.  Once off the needles, they would go directly to my feet.  But sock blockers can make the patterns, especially lace, pop more when taking photos.  That was why I wanted mine.  But of course I didn't want to splurge.  So I researched and learned how to make my own.

It is actually very simple.  But when I went over the original tutorial, I remembered experiencing some frustration in the process.  So, here I am trying to break it down into more easily understood steps.

Wire Hanger Sock Blocker Tutorial

1.  Look into your closet and find a wire hanger ... I'm pretty sure we all have a few couples hanging in there.  I am using a coated one here, but if you only have uncoated ones, it's still okay.  Locate the center of the long wire and pull down to 90 degree, making a square.

2.  Choose one corner (A) at the center (doesn't matter left or right) and push the corner towards the inside of the square, reverting the right angle.  While you are doing this, locate a desirable width for B.  You will see the shape of a sock is beginning to form:

3.  To finish the shaping, locate a desirable width for point C and push in the direction indicated by the arrow:

 4.  Voila ... your new sock blocker is finished:
You can do some final tweaking to the shape and size at this point.  Once you are happy with the result, go make the second one.  You can add some personal touch to your sock blockers by using some fancy duct tapes that are so popular now.  If your wire hangers are uncoated, it's better to cover them with duct tape to prevent rusting.

5.  Final step ... use them:

It would just take at most 10 minutes once you master the technique. 

Hope you find this useful.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Clearing out the WIP closet

Whew! Cleaning does take time! How do you like the new look of my blog?

For a long time, I have been unsure if I should keep the blog alive. After 2 years, I discovered that many of the knitting blogs I read are no longer active. Probably because Ravelry actually serves the purpose of keeping records of knitting projects.  With my own blog being inactive for 2 years, I am pretty sure I am now talking to myself ... LOL!  But this blog in a way feels somewhere between a kid and a pet to me ... and there is a definitely feeling of attachment.  At least for now, I can't let it go.

So here I am, giving it another go.

Let's get some old knitting FOs out of the way.

Pattern: Tilt's Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn:  Red Heart Heart & Sole (70% wool 30% nylon) Color Black & White (though it's 70% wool, the socks still feel a bit acrylic ... probably won't use it again.)
Needles:  Darn Pretty Needles US 1 and 2
Notes:  I really love this pattern.  Though the yarns are not super soft, it always make me happy when I wear them.  So, I am thinking of knitting this again with better and more colorful yarns.
Cast On:  01-01-2010
Cast Off:  Forgotten to make note on this.

Pattern: Gothic Spire Socks by Cookie A.
Yarn: Crystal Palace Yarn Panda Silk Solid (Merino, Bamboo, Silk)  Color: Lemon Cream
Needles:  Darn Pretty Needles US 1
Notes:  Intricate travelling stitch pattern which I love knitting.  The pattern did come out looking great and beautiful.  However, the instep tends to be a bit tight, making it a bit hard to put on.  So, it would be better to use larger needles.  The silk in the yarn gives it a lovely sheen, which I love.  However, maybe because of the light color, the look gets old and worn pretty fast.  This pair is actually near retirement.
Cast On:  02-13-2010
Cast Off:  Forgotten to make note on this.

 Pattern: Circle Socks by Anne Campbell
Yarn: Lion Brand Sock-Ease (75% wool, 25% nylon)  Color: Lemon Drop
Needles:  Darn Pretty Needles US 1
Notes:  I was very excited when Lion Brand introduced this fingering weight sock yarn because I made 3 pairs using their Magic Stripes (worsted weight sock yarn) and I love them.  This yarn is quite nice to work with and the colorway is pretty (also love the name Lemon Drop).  The pattern is a fun one and at the same time works well with the stripe yarns.  Love to think of the circles as honeycombs ... somehow it went very well with the colorway, don't you think?
Cast On:  09-07-2010
Cast Off:  12-20-2012

There is still quite a bit of organizing to do.  I have given up on some projects and am still going with some.  But those would have to wait ... if the world doesn't end tomorrow, we would always have time, right? 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I have some cleaning and dusting to do ...

For whatever reason that leads you here, thanks for stopping by.  Since I haven't been around myself for a while, I have quite some dusting to do.  In the meantime, wish you a Merry Christmas -

It is interesting that this blog was started around the same time of the year in 2004.