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Preview: Knitting in the Valley

Knitting in the Valley

Updated: 2018-03-02T09:12:38.974-08:00


Very sew motivated


I cannot say enough great things about the Craftsy bag-making mini-classes.  I am also very grateful that the classes are free.  If not, I would probably not enrolled, thinking I could learn like I learned to knit (reading books and patterns).  The videos have been enormously effective in getting me feel comfortable with these basic projects.So I dived into the tote bag and zipper pouch mini-class last week.  Not really in need of another tote bag, I skipped that project and moved on to make a zipper pouch with fabrics matching my bucket bag:I can't say I have mastered the whole process yet.  So it is a great thing that Kristin has posted dimensions for 3 more sizes on her blog.  I would probably make an iPad-size one as skill consolidating exercise.While messing around with my fabrics stash, I discovered something I left lying around for quite some time.  I have some wonderful friends who know that I started learning to sew, and they would bought me fabrics and books when they went travelling in Japan.  So I had promised to make them book cover.  The said project was half finished when I went into hiatus. Here it is ... a crazy quilted fabric book cover:I must have followed a pattern somewhere, just that now I have no idea what it is.  But I am really happy with how it comes out.  Most book cover patterns are customized to fit a specific size.  But since I am making this for my friends, I aim to make it more flexible in size:Instead of stitching both ends, I used a ribbon for one ... this way it can fit books of various widths.  By the way, don't you like that colorful psychedelia pattern?  Every time I look at it, I think of the 70s, flower power, San Francisco, LSD ...A full view of the top:Can you tell that I am much more comfortable with my sewing machine now?  I am, indeed.  So comfortable that I moved on to whip up another bag using this adorable linen/cotton fabric, also from my friends:The pattern is from a book called Everyday Handmade (which carries a lot of lovely projects):Perhaps it is the way I feel myself to be ... normal outside, crazy inside, I always like to use the louder print as the lining:I know the zipper doesn't really match too well ... a bit too white and bright.  But I wanted to capitalized on my motivation instead of waiting to get the matching zipper.  The bag was made in an evening's time. One great thing I learned from this pattern - how to conceal the raw edges:Sewing is fun.  And I already have a long queue of projects lined up.  :-)[...]

First SKA of 2013 - Little Pumpkins Socks


Joining KAL is actually fun.  You get to work on the same project or a theme with other fellow knitters.  The problem is if you are not exercising proper self-control, it would become stressful too.  But since I would be constantly knitting socks, I was really excited to get back into the SKA (Sock Knitters Anonymous) KAL on Ravelry.The January 2013 theme is Flora and Fauna ... anything to do with plants and animals.  When I saw the theme, I immediately knew what I wanted to make.  Through blogging, I came to know some wonderful knitters and their dogs and cats.  One kitty is particularly dear to me -Don't you just love that face?  This is Pumpkin of FluffyKnitterDeb. Sadly, P-Man passed away in February 2012.  Both Debi and I had kind of drifted away from blogging for some time then, so the news was quite a shock to me.So, what better time to make a pair of Little Pumpkins Socks using the yarn I bought because it reminded me of this beautiful boy in the first place?  Confused?  Never mind ... just look at this:I love the little detail in the ribbing that makes it so interesting ... just a single row of purling and the ribbing feels so different.  And of course the little pumpkin patterns are really cute too.The socks have been finished for a while (quite a while actually) ... and I only have time to show it now:Really nice, don't you think?  The yarn is so so so soft.  The yarn is superwash but I think I would hand wash the socks ... they don't feel as hard wearing as Trekking or Opal.  A closer shot to show you the little pumpkins:Details:Pattern: Little Pumpkins Socks designed by Sabine RuppertYarn: Liza Souza Hand Dyed Sock Merino Yarn (100% Superfine Superwash Merino) in Goldilock (I bought the yarn in Stitches West and didn't see this colorway on the website's color card.)Needles: Grafton Fibers Darn Pretty dpn 2.5mm (leg) and 2.25mm  (foot)Cast On: 01-01-2013Cast Off: 01-28-2013The SKA February challenge has started and I still have no idea what to make.  The themes are Unappreciated patterns (15 projects or less on Ravelry), Beverage themed, Wendy Johnson or Claire Ellen designs. Any suggestion?[...]

FO Alert!


This year I have adopted a different strategy.  Since it is during the weekends that I would have a larger chunk of time to work on my projects, I set myself bite-size targets for each weekend.  For example, the weekend 2 weeks ago my target was to make preemie hats, and the weekend before to finish the bag making class on Craftsy.  So far, it is working for me.  During the week, I pick up knitting projects whenever I have the time. Then during the weekend, I focus on my smaller goals and manage to have something done.

Last week, I finished watching the second part of the bag making class on Friday, and made a bucket bag during the weekend:

It was really a lot of fun making this bag ... from the selection of matching fabrics to searching for ways to customize the pattern to make a unique bag of my own.

Do you like the fabrics?  I bought the light blue one from Daiso.  It was originally a Japanese style fabric room divider.  The fabric itself was made in India.  The cotton is thicker than quilting cotton and has a finish like linen ... very lovely.  The darker fabric was something I picked up from Joanne's remnant bin (I love doing that ... it is like treasure hunt and there is always something surprising to discover).  It is some beautiful tie-dye in various shades of blue/purple.  How about some close-up?

To add some fun to the bag, I used 2 different stitches to sew the pocket divisions as well as the top stitching of the bag:

Really really proud of myself for this one ... :-)

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.

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.

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 AfghanBut 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.[...]

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. [...]

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. 

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 MicallefYarn:  Artfibers Tsuki (40% Silk  60% Superkid Mohair) Color Olive greenNeedles:  Audi US4, Takumi Bamboo DPNs US8Notes:  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:  12-28-2012Cast 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 SumnerYarn:  On Your Toes Bamboo by S.R. Kertzer (75% wool 25% nylon) Color Light greenNeedles:  Darn Pretty Needles US 2Notes:  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:  04-21-2010Cast Off:  04-24-2010 Pattern: Cashmere Wrist Warmers to Knit by Inna Voltchkova Yarn:  Frog Tree Aplaca Wool Fingering (100% Alpaca) Color YellowNeedles:  Darn Pretty Needles US1Notes:  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:  05-06-2010Cast Off:  05-08-2010 Pattern: Wine & Roses Mitts by JoLene M. TreaceYarn:  Sundara Yarn Sock Yarn (100% Merino) Color Lantern RoseNeedles:  Darn Pretty Needles US1.5Notes:  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:  05-06-2010Cast Off:  05-08-2010Next up would be sleeveless tank top for summer ... and I happened to have made TWO! Pattern: Isabella by Jordana PageYarn:  Brown Sheep Cotton Fine (80% Cotton, 20% Wool) Color Emperor's RobeNotes:  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:  07-04-2010Cast Off:  08-13-2010 Pattern: Full Circle by Sarah WilsonYarn:  Lion Brand Cotton Ease (50% Cotton, 50% Acrylic) Color Strawberry CreamNotes:  This is a comfortable tank top, but I must say it looks better on the magazine.  Cast On:  05-10-2010Cast Off:  06-30-2010In 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 GreenNotes:  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 ha[...]

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 Tutorial1.  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! [...]

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 BushYarn:  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 2Notes:  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:  01-01-2010Cast 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 CreamNeedles:  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:  02-13-2010Cast Off:  Forgotten to make note on this.  Pattern: Circle Socks by Anne CampbellYarn: Lion Brand Sock-Ease (75% wool, 25% nylon)  Color: Lemon DropNeedles:  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:  09-07-2010Cast Off:  12-20-2012There 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?  [...]

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.

A yarn bombing music video


Ok ... so it's been a looooong while ... but I have good reason, trust me.  Starting a business is no easy task ...
But I'm not here to talk about my business (which is completely unrelated to knitting or yarns, BTW).
I just discovered a yarn bombing video and am absolutely want to share -

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Seventeen Evergreen - Polarity Song
from Lucky Number Music on Vimeo.

There is an article accompanying the video on HuffingtonPost too.

Hey there! It's me!


OMG! It's 2010! How's everyone been doing? A heartfelt thank you if you still come by!No BS ... I haven't visited a yarn store or craft store, not posting on my own blog, not visiting your blogs, not pattern-browsing in Ravelry ... If you ask me which is the latest hot pattern now, sorry, no idea. But the truth is, I felt pretty good like that. No more feeling extremely agonized because I couldn't knit fast enough to catch up with the trend. No yarn buying in 4 months ... and I survive pretty well ... LOL!I am still knitting though. Definitely not a very productive 2009, but I still managed to finish up a few things (socks, basically) before the year ended.Pattern: Be Still My Heart Socks designed by Sandy Lake (Socks à la Carte)Yarn: TOFUtsies sock yarn color 876 Limited Edition (my favourite summer sock yarn ... I would love it more if there are more solid colours)Needles: Darn Pretty Needles US1 (I am in love with these needles ... don't want to knit socks with any needles else)Notes: I didn't bother taking pictures with this one because the pattern is not really very visible. They require extra caution in knitting too. From experience, the TOFUtsies sock yarns are not very hard wearing ... or maybe I didn't have enough socks made from this yarn. The first pair I made were already worn out ... since they are non-wool, I don't know darning would work. And to be honest, I am too lazy to darn. :)Cast On: 07-23-09Cast Off: 08-19-09Pattern: Crosshatch Lace Socks (pattern from More Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene SchurchYarn: Patons Stretch Socks (41% Cotton, 39% Wool, 13% Nylon, 7% Elastic) Colour: 31242 OliveNeedles: Darn Pretty Needles US 1Notes: Just like the TOFUtsies sock yarn, the colourway of this yarn is pretty hard to find a good matching pattern. I tried several from the book and settle on this ... and I think they turned out pretty good.Cast On: 08-20-09Cast Off: 10-31-09Pattern: Matilde Socks designed by Debbie O'NeillYarn: Ivy Brambles Sockscene Fingering Weight (410 yards, 100g) Colour: Pine TreeNeedles: Darn Pretty Needles US1Notes: Everything came together perfectly for me. I think the pattern is one of the most gorgeous ones I've ever seen. The green is just irresistable. And now I can tell you that the yarn wears and feels great.Cast On: 11-13-09Cast Off: 12-13-09Pattern: Mamluke Socks designed by Nancy Bush (Folk Socks)Yarn: Regia Silk (55% Wool, 25% Nylon, 20% Silk) Colour: Natural & RedNeedles: Darn Pretty Needles US1 and US2Notes: I love this pattern! It is great fun to knit. Though I had doubts about the heels, I followed the pattern anyway. Since I have wide ankles, I need to change to larger needles starting from the heel. The socks turned out to be surprising comfortable to wear ... and super warm! Which one do you like better? I think the one with Natural as the base colour and Red as the pattern colour is great.Cast On: 12-19-09Cast Off: 12-30-09This is the progress I've made on the Unst Lace Stole so far. I must say the edging is a bit of a drag to me ... and I am not always very motivated to work on it. But believe me, I would have it done this year ... hahaha ...After warming up with the Mamluke Socks, I started the Autumn Rose Cardigan on New Year's Day. The colour combo I chose is the very first swatch I made:The only thing bothering me is the deep green in the center of the medallion. I decided to switch to another softer green. I am now halfway of the first medallion. I'll show you how it looks next time. Yes, I am going to post again ... hehehe ... and also start visiting friends' blogs again. So, before we meet again, take good care and happy knitting.[...]

What's wrong with this picture?


Here I am again ... after an unannounced and unplanned hiatus. The knitting hasn't stopped though, just going on leisurely. Nothing too exciting to show you, just a new sock project for the month. See if you can spot what is wrong:I know it can be really hard. ;) It would be better if the yarn was in solid colour ... just why they didn't make solid colours in TOFUtsies? Here is a little help:For some reason, I made up part of the lace pattern myself after turning the heel ... LOL! Sharon Miller said in her book, "... never settle for second best ..." So true. Second best would only deteroriate into an eye sore. So, even though the sock has been finished (even the loose ends were sewn in), I didn't hesitate frogging it.Talking about Sharon Miller. The edging of the Unst Lace Stole has also been frogged because I just didn't like the way the corner was turned. Never settle for second best. Since I have to start over, I did the doubling right at the beginning this time. But I am still hopeful to finish the stole this month.Some exciting news about Sock Knitters Anonymous Sockdown schedule:Sockdown 2009 - 2010!! September – Technique: All knit with the same color (Solid or Semi-Solid Yellow)Designer: Wendy Johnson Mystery Sock Designer: Nancy Bush October – Technique: Holiday Stocking/ Man Socks/Knitting for a CauseDesigner: Jeannie Cartmel November – Technique: Mosaic/Slipped StitchesDesigner: Chrissy Gardiner Mystery Sock Designer: Star Athena December – Technique: Almost Socks/Leftover Socks/Stashbuster Socks/Stripes/Self Striping YarnsDesigners: Kirsten Kapur/ Kristi Schueler/ Hunter Hammersen January – Technique: Texture Other than Rib/ Beaded SocksDesigner: Nancy Bush Mystery Sock Designer: Debbie O’Neill February – Technique: Underappreciated Patterns/ Entrelac/ IntarsiaDesigner: Yarnissima March – Technique: LaceDesigner: Janel Laidman Mystery Sock Designer: Kristi Geraci April – Technique: Designs from an Online MagazineDesigner: Cookie A. May – Technique: Cables/Traveling StitchesDesigner: Cat Bordhi Mystery Sock Designer: Cookie A. June – Technique: DYO, Vintage PatternsDesigner: Stephanie van der Linden July – Technique: Stranded/Colorwork/Fairisle (Including Nordic/Scandinavian)Designer: Anne Hanson Mystery Sock Designer: Chrissy Gardiner August - VACATIONI didn't do too well last year. The new schedule seems a lot of fun ... so I am all geared up for the new year![...]

09:10 Grey Miele Socks


Wow! End of July already! It seems that my blog routine has become one post per week. I would like to post more often, but there really is not enough time ... and sometimes I feel like knitting instead of blogging. Especially recently when I started the Magical Mosaic Blanket. The mosaic knitting method is pretty easy to grasp. I would think once I got familiar with the method, the knitting would become monotonous ... or even boring. Surprise! I haven't been able to stop and am now into the 4th square already:Unlike the Great American Afghan, all the squares in this project are of the same number of stitches. So I chose to knit the blanket in stripes. I still have a long long way to go ... there are 63 squares. :DThe mysterious sock mojo has also been back. Not knowing how long it is going to stay, so just try to capitalize the opportunity. Kathy's Miele Sock pattern is fun to knit and is fast. I didn't make her very popular Jaywalker pattern because the chevron pattern is just not my favourite. But I really love this one:However, it seems I should have used an even smaller needles so that the leg and heel would be more snug. But the socks actually fit ... comfortable too:Details:Pattern: Grey Miele Socks designed by Grumperina from knit.1 Spring/Summer 2009Yarn: Furryarns MaineBearSOX 4 in Opal (65% SWT Wool & 35% Tussah Silk)Needles: Grafton Fibers Darn Pretty dpn US0Cast On: 07-14-2009Cast Off: 07-24-2009I have actually started another sock project immediately ... just forgot to take picture. Will show you later.I guess it is also time for the monthly-goal accessement. Pretty simple this time.July:Knitting: finish the GAA DONE!August:Knitting:finish the Unst Lace Stole (still remember this? hahaha ...)finish one stripe (9 squares) for the Magical Mosaic Blanketfinish one pair of socksExercising:I seemed to find a way to insert the strength training exercises from Keeping Fit in Your 50s twice into my weekly exercise routine. I aim at consolidating that so that I would be lifting some dumbbells 3 times a week.[...]

Random Thursday


Just got a clean bill of health from my doctor. I always schedule my yearly physical examinations around the time of my birthday ... so that I won't forget! My doctor seemed really excited when I told him about my exercise routine this year. Last year, he told me that swimming was good, but was not intense enough to accelerate the heart rate to a healthy level. Obviously I am a very good and obedient patient when I am given sensible advice. :) And oh, I dropped 5 lbs compared to last year!

We watched "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" Sunday night. The book is my most favourite in the series and the movie is excellent. Before this latest installment to the series, I used to love "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" the best because I just loved the 3 of them as kids. But now, I think "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" just trumped any of the previous one. The script was well written ... very good selection of materials from the original book. The director has done a very good job this time in portraying the mood and atmosphere. I especially love the movement of the camera in showing the loneliness of Malfoy. It is also delightful to see those little kids have grown into really good actors/actress, especially Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy. I am now waiting for the DVD to come out.

The sock mojo has come back a little bit:
(image) These are Kathy's design from the latest issue of knit.1, Miele Socks. The first attempt failed because I cast on for the larger size, which was too large for me. It is quite an enjoyable pattern, just that in my version, the twisted stitches don't pop out as much:
(image) I think it didn't come out as cute as Kathy's version, but still, not bad ...

09:09 Great American Afghan


I checked my Ravelry entry for this project and the start date was July 2007. Wow! It took me the entirety of 2 years to finish these 30 squares! Now, here it is:Due to the colour of the yarn, I figured the beauty of the afghan would never be fully appreciated if I took the pictures indoors. And since the weather has been so good these days, so I took it to the lawn under glorious sun. Voila!All the smallest details can be seen reasonably clearly. However, I was actually feeling a little bit traumatized while taking these pictures (due to a little episode of locking myself out of the apartment ... must have been too excited, just took the afghan and the camera and forgot the keys!), I didn't think too right and just took the pictures from one side of the afghan. Therefore, not all the squares could be seen in close-up shots, including my favourite "Tree of Life" square (which you can see in my last post).Making patchwork afghans is a magical experience for me. Like every other projects, it usually starts off with great anticipation and excitement with me feeling very ambitious and eager to work in full force. Then the passion cools off ... a bit ... then a lot ... and the project goes into hiatus. At some point, either out of guilt or annoyance looking at the pile of knitted squares, I would come back to it with greater enthusiasm. The excitement would mount when it comes to sewing time. But the real magical moment is when I knit on or attach the border and see how beautiful the whole thing is:And since it is my own work, it always surpasses what I see in the pattern book. Mine is the best! And so now you can understand the narcissistic act of taking photos of the same afghan from more or less the same angle ... LOL!Since I didn't buy the yarns in bulk, I had great difficulty tracking how many balls I used. I already made a mental note to self to do better in this aspect when I work on the next afghan project. :) Yeah, I think I would start the next one really soon. Details:Project: Great American AfghanYarns: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Worsted in Forest Green Heather and SeasprayNeedles: Denise InterchangeableCast On: July 2007Cast Off: 07-11-2009[...]

Down the drain they went!


That would be my June goals! LOL! Due to the back injury and the new development in the GAA project, I didn't have anything in June. Besides, despite being my birthday month (I am officially 45 now ... woo hoo!), for me, June has always carried a melancholic mood with it since that tragic night 20 years ago. The death of Michael Jackson last month only added weight to such a mood. Therefore, I am just too happy to welcome July. About the GAA project, I can finally report to you that the knitting of the last 5 squares was finished. Seen below are the 3 squares I chose from GAAA:I have too many favourites from GAAA, but I finally decided on these 3 because they are beautiful and meaningful. While they are being blocked to measurements, I started working on the edging.I definitely do not like the original idea in the pattern (using 2 working strands of yarn, knitting one row on one square and then using the other strand to bind off and so on). Experience from past afghan projects told me that a well-chosen edging would help a lot in evening out the size differences of the squares. So I browsed through Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge series and decided on this:I did actually test knit many selections from the books, however, this simple 4-row pattern (sorry, the book was not around, so I couldn't tell you the name ... next time, okay?) trumped the others. The fact that it is a reversible pattern for both sides makes it ideal because it doesn't curl. And of course, it is beautiful.I think, it's time to look at my monthly goals, right?JUNE:Knitting:1 pair of socks (I have started Vine Lace Socks from Socks, Socks, Socks) FAILEDfinish the Great American Afghan (only 2 squares left ... I optimistically think it is doable) FAILEDcontinue working on the Unst Lace Stole edging FAILEDSewing:Really ... I should get those bookcovers done! FAILED ... AGAIN!Exercising:I think I have successfully integrated exercising into my daily life. So I'll just keep it going. DONE ... the only success in June despite the injury.July:Knitting: I decided to just have one and only one goal for this month ...finish the GAAExercising: Ever since the recovery, I notice my back, though suffers no pain, would feel tight from time to time. This is not good. Tight muscles are prone to more future injuries. So, I plan to incorporate more serious stretching exercises into the routine. One great discovery in the local library is Keeping Fit in Your 50s. There is a whole section on stretching. I am going to do the whole routine once every week and some of the smaller exercises every day.[...]

Fully recovered


It feels good to be pain free. Today, I didn't even feel the tiny point of the origin of all the troubles at the back, so I can really say I am fully recovered. Workout routine has been interrupted for the last 2 weeks. It is great to be able to work out to my full capacity again. Since summer has officially started, I am alternating laps in the pool with time on the treadmill too ... hoping this would help the back.

The last row for the afghan is almost finished. I don't remember knitting so fast on sample squares before. I finished 3.5 squares during the weekend! These 2 are from The Great North American Afghan pattern book:
(image) (image)
I certainly had fun working on them. And needless to say, I am definitely going to make the GNAA. :)

Came out too short


All the squares have been sewn and I am indeed very happy with they way they came together:
(image) I've seen other afghans with different choices of colours. But I am glad that I chose to minimize the number of colours used.

The only problem is the afghan came out a bit too short. I would like it to cover a whole person. With the sewing and the inevitable shrinking of the squares after blocking (the yarn is largely acrylic, you know), it is now 53" long. So I decided to add one more row. I would be choosing some squares from the Great American Aran Afghan and the Great North American Afghan that would go well with this one. These 2 are from the latter:
(image) Got to start knitting again. :)

I have so much to share with you!


Right after my last post, I hurt my back practising the piano. It was ridiculous, I know, and I would spare you the details. The fact is I've been hurt and spent every ounce of energy figuring out whether I should sit on the sofa, on the swivel chair or stand to make myself more comfortable. For the first 2 days, bending forward was an impossible posture. I did see a physician in the urgent care center; but as we all know, there is not much a doctor can do to most back pains other than telling you that it would get better with time and be careful with your postures; or prescribing some heavy painkillers. I was happy to know that the physician I saw was not one easy on doing the latter. I really don't like that.I am doing much much better now. The pain is almost completely gone. With the help of a back brace belt, I could even vaccuum with relative ease (never felt so happy doing housework before ... hahaha ...)During this painful week, I only worked solely on the afghan. Since one square didn't work out for me, I think it would be a good idea to have a signature square. I got the inspiration from one knitter who did a similar square for her Great American Aran Afghan (but I couldn't remember who). And I want to make the signature with my Chinese name. So, I found this very cool Chinese calligraphy editor and chose an ancient style:The next step would be to transfer the above into a chart. For this, Chart Smarter from knitty Spring 05 is a wonderful help. In order to go ahead with the charting, I needed to know how many stitches and rows would make up a square of the desired size. Luckily, the previous square I worked on was this:It is basically a plain square with 3 tree appliques. After much calculations, I got my charts:After printing them out, I had to clean up the year chart a little. Then the knitting was the easiest part:Now I am doing the unpleasant task of cleaning up the loose ends. I swear I would take care of the loose ends after finishing each square from now on. I swear![...]

May hasn't been a good month


May hasn't been a very good month for me. Nothing serious and certainly nothing tragic ... just little things here and there that made me pause and appreciate when things were good.After serving me for almost 10 years, my Nike Air shoes fell apart into pieces. I hate wearing new shoes, especially sports shoes. But a nice salesman recommended a new pair to me that fit like gloves and didn't feel like new shoes at all. So, I am happily jogging on the treadmill again.I have been feeling pretty good ever since I started working out. However, there were several days in May when I knew I was not in good shape ... not sick, just not well. So, I listened to my body and took things easy. :)Then the knitting did go that smoothly. I am just happy that I got over the hurdle of the corner-turning dilemma. Now all I need is the perseverance with working the thousands of rows! The sock mojo has been come and gone at her own wish. After much search and try, I finally landed another lace pattern for my next pair.MAY:Knitting:as usual, 1 pair of socks (but I haven't made up my mind yet this time) DONE (the VK Lace Socks)finish the Unst Lace Stole NOT DONE (far from it actually)1 GAA square (there are 4 left) DONEswatch and cast on for another sweater project (I really like the Akomeogi Tunic from the latest IK) HALF DONE (I did the swatch but not start the project) Sewing:still the same ... but since I have started the cutting, things should look better this month ... hahaha ... STILL NOT DONE (but I did get things going)JUNE:Knitting:1 pair of socks (I have started Vine Lace Socks from Socks, Socks, Socks)finish the Great American Afghan (only 2 squares left ... I optimistically think it is doable)continue working on the Unst Lace Stole edgingSewing:Really ... I should get those bookcovers done!Exercising:I think I have successfully integrated exercising into my daily life. So I'll just keep it going.Oh, I also wish to be able to exercise better self control and not waste so much time playing Scramble on Facebook. But this little game is soooo highly addictive. :)[...]

(Mental) Paralysis


This was what happened.

Right after finishing the lace socks from VK, I moved on to the edging of the Unst Stole. And then it came to the point of turning the corner. This corner-turning thing is always a problem for people like me, who never study the instructions properly before working. The suggestion given in Sharon Miller's book is that for deep edging (over 20 stitches), the knitter should do doubling* 12 returns before and after the corner.

Problem: What about the beginning of the edging? Following the logic of the suggestion, I should have done the doubling at the beginning 12 returns since the knitting started at the corner.

I was completely horrified by the idea of having to rip back all the 185 returns of edging and starting all over again. This sent me into a mental paralysis ...

So, I moved on to a new sock project. I picked up a couple of Patons Stretch Socks a while ago. I'd like to see if they are good for summer wearing. However, I tried them with at least 3 different patterns and none worked well. It seems I can only make plain socks with them. I am in no mood for plain socks.

So, I moved on to sewing. Finally, something worked. After a lot of drafting, drawing, cutting and measuring, I managed to churn out something:
(image) It just feels great to be able to trust your sewing machine, knowing that it won't give you something funny at the back ... LOL! However, the bad news is that the size came out short. I can still use this for coasters. Good news is I learned a lot. The most important thing is to leave lots of margin when cutting the fabrics, especially those along the edges.

Oh, about the Unst Stole. I finally decided what the hell with it ... I just go on doing doubling at the corners and hoping blocking would help. :)

* Doubling is instead of attaching the edging to the main body at each return to every stitch or ridge, do it at every other return.