Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'm back!

This month is NaKniSweMo (National Knit a Sweater Month), and I'd love to join in the fun but there is NO WAY I have time to knit that many stitches every day.

So I'm going to be giving moral support to those brave sweater knitters by trying to knit at least a little bit every day this month. I got a full time job since my last post, and it sucks almost all of my time (I don't know how people with families and kids can do this) so knitting took a back burner along with pretty much everything else in my life.

But knitting had so many benefits, most notably preventing me from stressing out and going crazy.  It's time to take back control of my schedule and make the time to do things I enjoy!  And if I'm going to renew my vows with knitting, so to speak, then why not revive the blog as well.

No pics yet but I will share the ridonkulous video that I saw on Hissy Stitch's blog yesterday.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

FO: Daybreak shawl

My blogging mojo had disappeared for a while but I finished a shawl the other day and managed to get some photos of it:
Pattern: Daybreak by Stephen West
Yarn: Cascade Venezia Worsted
Needle: 5.5 mm
My project page

(Modelled by my lovely sister, who is also wearing a hat I recently knit but never blogged about.)

The pattern was fun and simple.  I knit a small size but on much bigger needles; the end result is just a tad bit small for me to wear as a shawl but as you see it totally works for a more petite person.  I plan to give this to my mom, maybe for Christmas?

And this yarn may be my new favorite.  I loved knitting it, and love the way it feels knit up.  Squishy and smooth. The blend is 70% merino and 30% silk.  I'm thinking I will knit my next sweater out of the stuff.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Breakup time

 Sometimes we have to realize that things just aren't working out.  I love the idea of these mittens, but the second one is a totally different size than the first.  And the finished one has its own problems.

Not being sure what to do about these f$%^* things means that I haven't touched them in a while.  I finally realized that I had to move on - I pulled the needles out and will use them to cast on another pair of mittens with different yarn and a different pattern.  The hemming and hawing over this pair has put me very far behind my goal of 11 pair of mittens this year, it's time to cut losses.

 Meanwhile, I've been working on a Daybreak shawl, using stash yarn.  It's Cascade Venezia Worsted,a blend of merino wool and silk, and I love this yarn.  I'm knitting on pretty big needles so I'm hoping to get a good size shawl out of the two skeins that I have.
 I've also started a plain sock for my mom.  I didn't realize it at the time, but I think the Easter-y colors are what prompted me to cast on. I'll likely still be knitting on these in the summer heat though, when the colors will not suit the season so well.

Now that I'm back in a temperate zone, I'm really enjoying the spring, and the transformation taking place in my area.  Like much of the US, it's been raining for weeks but there have been a couple clear days here and there when I've been able to do some yardwork.  A couple weeks ago I came across this in a flowerpot left outside over the winter:
 Those are 5 cute little birds' eggs in there.  Needless to say I won't be planting anything in this pot. I checked up on the nest over the weekend and here's how they are doing now:
Nothing brightens my day like baby animals.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Old and New

The problem with knitting a big solid-colored blanket is that it's painfully boring to watch.  Anyway, most of my knitting lately has been devoted to making a dent in this:

It's actually a lot of fun to knit, and surprisingly easy on the hands despite the many cables.  Perhaps because this project is a relatively large gauge?  I haven't knit on it much except at knitting group, at the rate I'm going my nephew will be too big for it by the time it's done.

Anyway, I started a new craft within the last couple weeks - something about tackling something completely new really helps me through rough patches in my personal life.

Thanks to a kind friend who handed me a free spindle, I've been spinning.  As in, making yarn out of fluffy stuff.  It's awesome!  (Although, so far my results aren't as awesome as the principal of the thing.)

I got some wool to practice with from DBNY.  As this is my first attempt, I can't really say if the fiber is good or not, but I'm doing just fine with it.

So far I've been looking to youtube and the book Respect the Spindle for guidance. The book is really helpful but I would suggest watching at least one or two videos first, because I really couldn't understand what the photo tutorials in the book were getting at without seeing somebody spinning first.

I'm pretty excited about the whole spinning thing, especially because I think that my little sister would take to it really well.  She likes the idea of having a hobby but hasn't been able to find the right one yet.

So I bought another spindle and a learning DVD from The Woolery, so my sister and I can learn together.  How cute is that?

I've definitely got a lot going on in the New department.  But I also got reacquainted with some older things, specifically my silver jewelry.  It's amazing what a cleaning cloth and some elbow grease can do.  For example, here's a pair of earrings I've had for six or seven years:

The darker one isn't in shadow, it was just that tarnished.

I feel like I got a whole new set of jewelry for the few bucks it cost me for the silver cleaning cloth. I'm glad I found a way to be happier with the things I have instead of springing for something new.

But, it was my birthday the other day, and I received a very thoughtful gift that will be leading to some new things around here...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tidy Mind, Tidy Stiches

For today's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week topic, I am going to talk about strategic project planning.  (Actually I'm running a bit behind the official timeline, but I prefer to think of it as fashionably late.)
The thing is, people can be moody and as knitting is done purely for pleasure in this era, it's a good idea to think about your own knitting moods and to make sure that you'll have something ready to go whenever the urge strikes. Otherwise you end up casting on impulsively and then having way too many projects in progress - whatever "too many" means for you. 

For me, I want all the projects I'm working on to fit into one basket.  I like to maintain the delusion of order in my stuff by knowing that everything does, in fact, have a proper place even if it is rarely there.  Although I must say I am way more organized with my knitting than most other things.

I think I struck a good balance sometime last year.  I've been much happier with the projects I've already got on the needles and have been much less likely to cast on for stuff on a whim. It's not a set-in-stone thing or even something that I actively think about, besides perhaps doing a quick mental check if I have enough diversity in my projects when updating my Ravelry notebook.

Anyway, at (almost) all times I have at least one of each of these projects going, with photos of what fits the bill currently:
  • a colorwork project, so far they have been mittens

  • a lace project

  • plain knitting, usually a stockinette sock

  • a patterned sock

  • some large, long-term project

    This doesn't mean that I force myself to knit only these things, or that I don't leave one of them in my knitting basket for long periods. But no matter what I feel like knitting, I've got something at the ready that will do.

    I certainly am not immune to impulsive knitting.  My sister asked me for a "big, hippie-dreadlock hat" though she is not a hippie and does not have dreadlocks.  I just so happened to have bought yarn recently to make her a hat, and within a couple weeks of her asking, voila:

    I want to take some photos of her wearing it this weekend before talking about all the details though.

    Tuesday, March 29, 2011

    A Tale of Two Yarns

    It's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.  What better way to get my blogging mojo back than to follow along?  Each day participants blog about the same topic.  Yesterday's topic was "A Tale of Two Yarns".  Better late than never, as they say.
    So I'm going to talk about two yarns that have been in my stash for a while.  Let's get the negative out of the way first.  This yarn has been a weight on my conscience for at least a couple years now:
     I can't remember what yarn this is, nor what fiber it is.  It has no "give" to it so it has little or no wool.  I know I bought it for socks, but I don't think this stuff will keep its shape well enough for good socks.  Also, I really don't like the colors - I don't know what I was thinking when I bought this!  It must have been on sale.
    But, it's perfectly good yarn which has got to be suitable for something.  I am just waiting for a muse to come around and inspire me about it.  Meanwhile the yarn has been taking up room in my stash for at least two years.  When I see it I get grumpy.

    On the other hand, I've got this other yarn which I've been hanging on to because I love it so much:
    These are remnants of some skeins of Knitting Notions Classic Merino Superwash, in colors Green Apple and Midnight.  I bought the first skein of Green Apple at A Wool Gathering some years back.  It was the first "fancy" yarn I bought, meaning it was the first yarn I didn't get at Hobby Lobby or on ebay. 

    Of course, because I treasured it so much, there was some kind of disaster during a move and that first skein ended up in a horrible, gigantic, soul-sucking knot.  After hours and hours of teary attempts I could only salvage about a hundred yards, which didn't seem enough to do anything with, so I just had to order more from the website.  And somehow a blue skein got in my cart too hehehe.

    So far I've made a pair of socks and a pair of mittens from these, both have been well loved.

    I've got about 220 yards left and I'm not quite sure what to do with it.   Kids' mittens maybe?

    Friday, March 25, 2011


    Seriously, I thought it would be spring around here by now. We had a few nice days in Cincinnati but snow is in the forecast for tomorrow. The only proof that the grey cool days will end are the daffodils which started popping up. I plucked one of the first blooms from my mom's front yard to bring some hope inside.

    Anyway, as for knitting I have finished a couple things lately.

    First up is a hat. I knit it in a bamboo/wool blend yarn, and it came out way better than I expected. Orginally it was a bit longer but somehow this hat made its way into the washing machine and well, let's call it a beanie now shall we?
    Pattern: Anna Karenina
    Yarn: Sirdar Snuggly Baby Bamboo DK
    My project page
    The pattern is called Anna Karenina, but I can think of a few things the stitch reminds me of more.

    Like the Eiffel tower, or those stacking baby toys inspired by the Tower of Hanoi problem. But my personal experiences led me to think of this stitch as a chedi/stupa. Specifically the one I saw at Wat Phra Keow in Bangkok.
    In the Wat Phra Keow, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok, Thailand
    Anyway, this hat has been a real hit - it's been rotating among my sisters and I since I got home. Yes, we are all in our 20s and yes, we still "borrow" clothes from each other, except for the skinny one who just steals everyone else's accesories hehehe.

    I'm going to knit another one (and keep it out of the washing machine), I'm deciding whether to make do with some stash or wait a while and buy a similar yarn. You know, if it ain't broke don't fix it.

    I also finished a lacy scarf, knit from Rio de la Plata sock yarn.  Apparently this company is out of business now?  Anyway, blocking softened the yarn a bit.  I think the scarf looks ok, but I think marled yarns aren't my thing, I'll try to remember not to buy any more.

    Pattern: Adia by Nora Gaughan
    Yarn: Rio de la Plata Sock Multisolid
    My project page
    I love this pattern, it's easy, fun to knit, and free!  This is the second Aida scarf I've knit.  The first one was alpaca and knit at a looser gauge - I think I liked it better but I gifted it so this one will do.
    I'm working on my WIPs here and there, but for the most part all my knitting time is devoted to a kid-size blanket requested by my mom.  It deserves a post of its own but here's my swatch.

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    India and square needles

    It's been a few weeks since I blogged, but I have excuses:

    First, I packed up all my stuff and left Singapore,
    Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in Singapore

    Then I spent a week or so in India with bf, sightseeing the "Golden Triangle" of Delhi, Agra (where the Taj Mahal is), and Jaipur,
    Jama Mosque in Delhi
    The Taj Mahal
    The Red Fort in Delhi
    The Amber Fort near Jaipur

    And then I said Goodbye to bf and flew Home, which is out in the 'burbs around Cincinnati, Ohio.  You know, when you don't have a job and have nowhere to be, the best place to go is home to Momma!

    Besides the weather, culture, and time changes, I have to readjust to living under Mom's roof after quite a while.  She gets up and out of the house for work before 6 every morning.  It's been hard.

    It's not the end for me and bf - he'll come to visit within six months, as soon as he can secure the funding and the vacation time.  Skype relationships are never easy, but I'm happy that at least one of us got his contract renewed so he can afford to come visit me.

    Anyway, that's more than enough about my personal life, let's get on to the knitting!

    I was pleasantly surprised that I got through the airport in Amsterdam with all my knitting in my carry-on, despite people on Ravelry saying it was going to be trouble.  Maybe because I was just connecting through?  Anyway,  I've made decent progress on the Juneberry Triangle shawl, much of which was done on planes.
    Pattern: Juneberry Triangle by Jared Flood
    Yarn: Colourmart
    My project page

    When I got home I had some of the Kollage square needles waiting for me, and I only held out a couple days before casting on a sock with them.  I am really disappointed... I *think* the squareness is helping my hands as is claimed, I haven't knit enough to know for sure, but the cable is giving me grief.

    It's very floppy, and the join with the needle is so abrupt, that it takes, like, twice as long to get the stitches onto the needle.  Maybe it wouldn't be a big deal when knitting in the round on one circ, but for doing a sock on two circs, it's a real pain in the ass.

    Over on the Knitting Pipeline podcast, Paula mentioned that she knits loose and doesn't have a problem with the needles at all.  Perhaps it was tight knitters like me who complained to Kollage, and apparently they have a new firm cable option.  I'm definitely going to try those, because I have a real problem with one of my hands, but with the aforementioned unemployment it will be a while until I can justify shelling out any cash for new needles.

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    WIP roundup

    Having sent most of my stash and a few WIPs ahead of me by post, I'm a bit freaked out by the relative emptiness of my knitting basket.  Two of socks waiting for mates,

    a crochet scarf project with way too many ends to deal with,

    a half-done scarf,

    and a shawl I'm saving for the airplane.

    There was a hat in there until this morning; once my hat model gets back from India, I'll post about it.

    I wasn't worried about running out of knitting until my hat model aka boyfriend left Friday night.  Once I move back to US we won't see each other for quite a while, and I wasn't planning on knitting much these last couple weeks and instead spending my free time interacting with bf.  But yesterday his grandmother died and within hours he was at the airport headed back to India.  Even so he just barely made it to the funeral.  In total he'll be gone almost a week.

    It seems he's been living at the airport this month, having just come back from a trip to India a couple weeks ago, and having taken a trip with me over Chinese New Year to Phuket and Kuala Lumpur. We got the bag in the background of the photos above in Phuket, can you tell I think it's really cute? I suppose I should show some photos of our trip, but they're still in my camera so perhaps the next post.

    Anyway, this trip is going to be tough for bf, facing the death of a beloved family member and an extended family rife with feuds, many involving my bf.  I stay out of all this - it's not my place and our cultures are so different that I can't even understand what the arguments are about half the time.  I think we all learn at some point that just as we have to accept out partners, we have to accept their family dynamics as well.  But it's damn hard to do that sometimes.

    Anyway, a week of evenings to myself with a backlog of podcasts and a queue of audiobooks lined up, and I can see myself burning through most of those WIPs before he gets home.  Then what will I do?!

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    FO: Pointelle Socks

    Another Christmas present reached its recipient so I can talk about these socks now.

    Pattern: Pointelle by CookieA
    Yarn: Cascade Heritage
    Needle: 2.5mm (2 circs)
    My Rav project page.
    When Cookie A's new sock book came out, I read a great review over at Knitspot and decided to buy the digital edition and see why everyone was so excited about her designs.

    The book is really nice, and the patterns are extremely detailed and well-written.  This entire sock was charted, for example, which made it great fun to knit.  You may also notice that one sock is the mirror image of the other, which eliminated Second Sock Syndrome because you knit from a completely different chart.

     I had bought the yarn some time ago with the intention of knitting socks for my friend out of it; she used to wear this color often and generally looks amazing in blue.  I just noticed while writing this post that Cascade Heritage is the yarn used in the pattern -  so I followed the pattern exactly. I don't know if I've done that before!
     Anyway, I love this yarn, this is the second pair of socks I've knit with it.  If it came in semisolids I probably wouldn't buy any other yarn for wool socks.  It's a little cottony-feeling while knitting, but after a wash it's acceptably soft.  My previous pair went in the washer and dryer with all my other clothes and were just fine. Maybe not perfect condition, but certainly wearable.
    I'm glad these found a happy home with my friend. There is nothing like spending time and effort to create something special for someone who really appreciates it!

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    FO: Beaded Lace Scarf

     I couldn't get the whole thing in one shot, but you get the idea.
    Beaded Lace Scarf
    Pattern: from Knitted Lace of Estonia
    Yarn: Jaggerspun Wool-Silk 2/18
    Needle: 3.5 mm

    This was a Christmas/birthday gift for my BFF who loves to wear pink.  She finally received it the other day so now I can post about it.

    I used the book Knitted Lace of Estonia to piece together the pattern for this.  The body of the scarf is the Piibelehtkiri pattern from the stitchionary, and the edge is taken from Madli's Shawl.  I love this edge and might use it again in the future, maybe knitting Madli's Shawl itself.

    Throughout, I used beads instead of nupps.  These beads are plastic, and almost a perfect match for the yarn color.  They give a bit of a sparkle when caught in the right light, but otherwise just melt into the yarn, providing a subtle "something" that's classy but really hard to photograph.
    Speaking of the yarn, this is Jaggerspun Wool-Silk 2/18.  I really enjoyed working with it, and after blocking the fabric is light and slightly soft but not fuzzy (unlike the alpaca yarn I was knitting recently).  I liked it enough that I scooped up a couple more skeins from another Raveler in Singapore, but of course I'm not going to have time to knit it until I get home to US anyway.  Sigh.

    I didn't worry about getting the blocking done perfectly, because I knew I would be cramming it into an envelope to send it off.  Even so, when I look at the photo I took of the blocking below I realize that it was quite wonky.  There are no straight lines to be seen hehehe.  Luckily, it will be twisted around a neck most of the time, so nobody will notice that some sections are wider than others.

    The recipient of this scarf is no stranger to knitted gifts.  Almost every year since I learned to knit, I've made her something for Christmas.  I'm not sure exactly why I started up this particular tradition, but she got me interested in yarny crafts in the first place so it only seems right. (She's on hiatus from being an avid crocheter and taught me to crochet years ago.)
    I always pick something that's beyond my current skills, and challenge myself to make something awesome for her. In the past, she has received my first complete cabled item - a cotton towel, yeah don't ask me what I thought she was gonna do with a knit towel with cables all over it - and a pair of mittens which were the first all-over stranded knitting project also the first mittens I knit.  This scarf was the first time I've used beads and is certainly more challenging than anything lacy I've knit before.

    I'm already wondering what new technique to tackle for her this Christmas.  Brioche knitting, maybe, or entrelac?  I've got about six months to decide before I need to start working on it.  Isn't that terrible, to be thinking about Christmas knitting again already?  How time flies!