Monday, January 28, 2013

It's all in the blocking

Unable to resist the sampler block temptation, I joined the YearLong KAL on Google+ and we are using this pattern collection for the knitalong.  However, since I already have a normal size afghan in progress, I really don't have space to accommodate another big block huge project.  So I have this idea of making much smaller squares (half the size intended ... 4" x 4"):

If I have to say one most important thing I learned from knitting the Great American Afghans, I would say ... blocking is everything!

I think it is pretty self-explanatory, right?

Usually, the blocking would be done when the squares are thoroughly dried.  But for cable stitches, I would leave them stretched with blocking wires for as long as 3 - 4 days just to make sure the squares wouldn't bounce back easily.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Baby Sunday

A while ago I got a new follower on Twitter called @PreciousPreemie.  I started reading about them on their website and thought maybe I could help a little.

Digging into my stash and leftovers, I found quite a lot suitable yarns for baby hats.  They prefer cotton and acrylic yarns.  But I think bamboo blend would be good too.

So I started with the patterns they linked to on their site and made this little one, literally:

Not having babies or kids in the family, I seldom do baby knitting ... and always thought I was not really interested.  It was a strange feeling holding this tiny little hat ... just imagine those little beings who need them. A little leftover yarns and some time from me can help them.

So all day yesterday was devoted to making little hats:

And I am really loving this basket weave pattern:

This heart shape is another cute one from the Precious Preemies website:

However, the most interesting fun pattern has to be Aviatrix:

It's a helmet-shaped hat knitted on straight needles with short-rows.  I am going to make more of Aviatrix.

The hats have yet to be washed and blocked before they can be sent away.  But baby knitting is definitely feel-good knitting ... fun and fast.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Sew Weekend

In order to achieve my New Year resolution to start sewing garment this year, I am taking sewing classes from Craftsy.  I am starting with the free mini-classes first.  Once I am more comfortable with my sewing machine, I would then venture into the more advanced ones.

I've made lined drawstring bags before, but the tutorial I followed was not there anymore.  And to be honest, I had no understanding of the whole construction at all.  So I took the class and it was great ... really really great.  You have the downloadable pattern as well as the videos.  Kristin broke down the process into easy-to-understand segments.  Besides, you can go with your comfortable pace and watch as many times as you need.

So, on Saturday I watched the drawstring bag portion of the class and made this:

All fabrics are from stash (I love the JoAnn's raments bin!). I love the blue one a lot and have wanted to make something with it for a long time.  Focusing on the construction of the bag, I skipped all the embellishing.  Besides, the fabrics are pretty enough.  ;-)

To make sure I really get it this time, on Sunday, without watching the video, I made another one:

I randomly chose some colorful pieces from the Color Wheel Quilt leftovers (and I have A LOT of leftovers!) to piece together the center panel.  Got a bit lazy with the drawstrings and used some ribbons from stash instead (the color may be a bit too dark ... perhaps replace them later if I find something more matching.)  I even added a trim and make it more roomy by sewing across the two bag corners.  I love this one because it just fits my current project need:

  The bag is big enough for a whole cone of Pony 2-ply (3500 yards!), with which I am making a sampler afghan using tiny (US 0) needles.  Instead of making 8" square blocks, mine would be 4" ones.  And they are pretty cute:

It's certainly an impulsive project since I already have another afghan on the needles:
Magical Mosaic Afghan
But I am such a sucker for sampler afghan ... simply can't control it when the Google+ knitting group decided to do a year-long knitalong with this.  What I discovered is that making small blocks using tiny needles is actually quite enjoyable.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

WIP Wednesday

I think this is my first ever WIP Wednesday post ... something new for the new year ... :-)

When I completely dropped my knitting needles in 2011, I left a few unfinished projects lying around.  Now that the needles are up and running again, I need to go through them.

So far, I got one finished, one exiled to frogland, one ended prematurely due to loss of interest ... and I felt so much better.  Too many WIPs is always a source of stress to me.

Now, I only have three.

Loving the little pumpkins!
Still working on the first sock ... onto the heel flap.  I'm expecting this one to be fast.  The Sock! Merino is really really enjoyable to work with.

This is Palette Fair Isle Cardigan.  I am not really ready to pick it up yet ... it feels too complex for my brain now.  Besides, the colors seem darker than I would like.  But I have already done so much ... and I need another cardigan.

Last on the list is the Magical Mosaic Afghan, which was started in 2009 ... I kid you not!  I remember seeing the one Monika made for her daughter and I thought, "I want one!"  And I still want one ... I am now on the 9th block.  You can see the whole set I've done here (I will keep adding to it as I finish each block).  Besides the fact that it has become extremely immobile (I am working a whole column continuously), I am enjoying it.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Here we go, 2013!

New Year Resolutions always feel like setups to let myself down ... make me feel awful in not accomplishing.  But this shouldn't be stopping me ... right?  As Chuck Wendig (very inspirational article, BTW) said, "Face the Fear, Beat the Beast!"

So, here you are ... my 2013 Resolutions ... in no particular order.

1.  Plan more and better, waste less
Better meal planning not only means more efficient time management, but also minimizes over-buying food, which very often end up rotting somewhere in the kitchen.  I have yet to fully master the art of meal planning, but I am learning.

2.  Eat less, eat well
My husband always says I make too much food ... and my portions are big.  Maybe he is right. 

3.  Chill behind the wheel
In general, I am quite a mellow-tempered person.  But driving changes me ... I cursed and yelled; I was impatient; I thought I was the only person who knew how to drive ... It's time to chill.

4.  Park farther away from the shop entrance
I admire those of you who have resolution to work out at least 30 minutes every day.  I am still in the process of getting back my workout groove.  Maybe utilizing everyday opportunities to physically move a bit more is a better tangible goal for me.   Going shopping every (other) day sounds a great opportunity ...

5.  Read one non-fiction
Fiction is my thing.  To be more specific, mystery / thriller is my thing.  But I think maybe I've read enough pulp fiction in the last several years.  Why not challenge myself to read ONE non-fiction this year?  Nothing really catches my attention yet ... any suggestion?

6.  Take my daily vitamins
My doctor told me 2 annual check-ups in a roll that my level of vitamin D was low.  So, I got 2 big bottles from Costco ... took them for a few days ... and that was it.  Let's have a fresh start in 2013.

7.  Up my game
Knitting - try designing knitting patterns
Sewing - try making garments

8.  Try harder to fall in love with cleaning
Need further elaboration?

It would be neat to have a 10-item list ... but Chinese like the number 8 ... it brings good luck. 

Wish you all a wonderful and fulfilling 2013.