Sunday, November 25, 2007

Placed Cable Aran

Pattern: Placed Cable Aran by Cathy Payson in Fall IK 2007
Materials: K1C2 Angora Soft ( ) 6 balls in color Dove. US8 Addi Turbo Circulars 24, 32".
Gauge: about 18 sts and 24 rounds per 4"
Finished size: 32" bust

Started: September 7, 2007
Finished: November 18, 2007

Plenty. I didn't care for the boxy look of the original pattern, especially the modified drop shoulder sleeves. I'm petite, so I thought that this would look silly on me and overwhelm me. I'm also lazy, so I knit the thing in the round using a column of purl sts to create a faux seam and threw in some waist shaping for good measure. Then I knit flat after dividing for the arm holes and decreased out another inch or so of stitches at the armhole so that the shoulder seam would lie on my shoulders instead of below them. I may have decreased a bit too much, but oh well.

I knit the cowl as directed, but then I picked up stitches for the sleeves around the armhole, 1 st for every 2 rounds because I wanted narrower sleeves. See my previous post on how I wrestled with this. I decreased every 6th round to about the elbows then decided that I didn't like the deep ribbing at the cuffs in the original pattern since I didn't think it matched the rolled hem or rolled cowl neck. So I decided to increase every 10 rounds or so to the cuffs to mirror the shaping through the body and just left the cuffs with a natural roll. I found that a sewn bind off gave a nice roll here.

This should have been a very fast knit, but I ran into knit lethargy. I didn't use the pattern all that much except as a reference point for sizing and for the cable pattern placement and cowl neck shaping. I found on Ravelry that some people didn't much like the cowl, but I think it can work nicely, especially since I don't exactly live in a climate where a turtleneck is really an option. Also, since I think I might be a bit sensitive to angora, the looseness of the neck is a blessing.

The yarn did absolutely nothing for me as it had a tendency to be a bit thick and thin which is not what this yarn should have been. I chalk it up to bad manufacturing. It did however cost a whopping $18 for the whole sweater, so I can't complain that much, and the drape suits the cowl neck well. So the yarn it served its purpose and now I still have 7 balls of the stuff left over. I'll have to find it a new home.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Pushing the rock off...

And emerging from underneath to say hello! I didn't want the few of you who still check back every now and then to think I'd died or anything. Actually, I've been focusing on other things like


Yes, we took the plunge and are officially homeowners. Well, not exactly officially since we don't close escrow for another few weeks, but official enough to be feeling really poor. Once we move in, I'll share better pictures with you, but for now, here's the highlight of the place for me and likely where you'll find me for the month of January after we move in (yes, those are jets):

But apparently, buying a home made something click inside because I finally finished two projects that have been looming for the last two months. I only have pictures of one, the socks, but I'll save the Placed Cable Aran sweater for another post.

Fan Panel Socks

Pattern: Based on Fan Panel stitch pattern in Vogue Stitchionary Vol 1
Materials: Mind's Eye Merino/Tencel hand-dyed sock yarn (about 400 yards per skein - no specifics available as this yarn came with no ball band)
Gauge: about 10 sts/in
Finished size: fit my US6 women's feet

Started: September 24, 2007
Finished: November 12, 2007

I wanted a better heel than I'd been using for heel flap, toe-up socks. Previous attempts had me using short rows on half of the total number of stitches. After working short rows, I'd then pick up all of the wraps on one side, knit back to the other side and pick up all of those wraps. This yielded a very shallow heel flap determined by the number of increases I added for the gusset.

I liked how a top-down heel flap extends almost to the bottom of the foot. I decided to try working the heel turn as a triangle starting with only 1/4 of the total number of stitches and working enough rows so that if I picked up 1 st for every row, I'd end up with a heel flap comprised of 1/2 the total number of stitches. Okay, I can't describe what I did, but at any rate, I like how it turned out. Well, except for the tiny hole at the top of the heel flap, but I'll get over it. If I were to make these again, I'd omit the patterning on the bottom of the foot and across the toe as it really doesn't add anything. In fact, it creates unsightly little peaks on the toe since the toe increases are on the top and bottom instead of the sides. I'll let it go and chalk it up to a design element. This time.

Also, check out this finished ruffled cable cardigan... makes me want to finish mine and hope it turns out half as nice!

Friday, November 02, 2007

You guessed it...

I still haven't gotten back my mojo. Oh well, that's okay. This is probably the longest I've gone since I started knitting without producing any FO's - over two months! And I haven't even started anything new.

But in other news, I did get a chance to visit with BB again a couple of weekends ago. He's too cute for words, and one big boy! At 3 months he weighs 16 pounds already. I'm looking at my brother and his wife and wondering if this kid is alien spawn because honestly, we're just not big people round here. Well, except for maybe DH, whom BB looks at with complete puzzlement because DH just doesn't look the same as the rest of us. Anyway, for lack of any better pics to show, I'll post some my brother took of my favorite nephew.

Geez, if I'm this incessant with someone else's kid, I can only guess what you people will have to suffer through if I ever take that plunge. BTW, that's the baby bolero from One Skein by Leigh Radford. It's sized for newborns, but as we've already established, he's a large 3 month old, so it can apparently be worn for a while if you don't mind the abnormally short sleeves in comparison to the sleeve width.

And one more thing before I sign off for who knows how long - we're looking at buying condos. It's super scary, especially in the LA market. Any thoughts?

Monday, October 08, 2007

No mojo

Somehow I've lost it. My mojo. Knitting and otherwise. You know what I mean, right? Just kind of a case of the blahs and you just can't shake it? Well, I've taken to cheering myself up with video of BB doing nothing but hiccuping or lying there looking cute (what else do 2 month olds do?) and my worst guilty pleasure of all, Gossip Girl.

And somehow, my anniversary is already coming up. It's been almost a year since I've become Mrs. McSpazzitron, and I still don't have wedding pictures printed out and sent to my parents or in-laws. Or even a wedding picture on my or DH's desk at work. Maybe for our anniversary, I'll get my butt in gear and finally get my album approved and prints ordered. There's just not much hope of it happening by Sunday, our actual anniversary. We're celebrating in style by whipping out the frozen year old cake and popping open some brachetto.

Anyway, knit-wise, I have for whatever reason, managed to have the most projects on my needles than ever before. A few pictures:
My placed cable aran is slowly growing sleeves. I changed my method of adding sleeves from the top down because my short row wraps look all kinds of ugly. Instead I picked up only the top 20% of stitches around the armhole and then turned, worked back, and at the end of the row, I just picked up another stitch, turned, and slipped the stitch just picked up and worked to the end of the row. Repeat until all stitches are picked up and voila, a sleeve cap with no math involved. Lazy, I know, but I still think it looks better than my old way.
I cast on for new socks because I don't have the heart to rip back the others that have been on the needles for months being too big for their recipient. The toe on these socks have a bit of n*pple going on with them because I moved the toe increases around from where they normally are. But I like the fan panel stitch pattern, and I have ideas in my head of a different to me toe up heel flap sock, so we'll see if it works out. I'm sure this heel is out there somewhere, but I'm too lazy to find it and wouldn't even know what it's called. Also, my picture taking skills are on full display here - the yarn is really more brown than red. If only my red sweaters looked this red.

Lastly, I'm working on a Vogue Knitting pattern now. I had some Berroco Pleasure sitting in my stash originally intended for Blaze, but then I discovered something called gauge and realized that this yarn just wouldn't work for that sweater. Two years later and here we are finally. Big gauge, small jacket, sounds like instant gratification, right? Well, not when there's as much seaming as is involved with this pattern. So far, I'm ignoring that part and just knitting the pieces. We'll see if I lose all my hair when it comes time to seam not one, but two borders all the way around this sweater.

The purple jacket, by the way, has an error in the chart - or at least I'm convinced it does, though I haven't yet received any sort of official confirmation as such. The first picture is the cable panel as published. The second picture has the modification thrown in (changed the center 16 stitches to 4 repeats of k1, p2, k1 - all credit for this mod goes to Veronique). Not much difference, but enough in person to make it worth ripping the whole back and starting over.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Some progress

I have been knitting, really! Just not blogging much about it. I started the Placed Cable Aran from Fall 2007 IK a couple of weeks ago. It's progressing nicely. Above you can see the cable detail which I think is looking lovely. The yarn I'm using for this was a heavily discounted and discontinued yarn I picked up from WEBS for something like $2 a ball. It's Knit One, Crochet Too Angora Soft. The yarn has a cabled construction to it, or at least I think that's what it is since I can't seem to figure out how to coax the plies back together once I stab the yarn and random bits of it come undone.

And yes, there are lots of modifications afoot. I won't bore you with details yet - that's for a later post. But what I AM worried about right now is the cowl neck. Given the fit of the rest of the sweater, is it looking a bit, um, large? Guh... this picture could just as well be my pre-booking mug shot.
I went to see the Yarn Harlot speak at the central library over the weekend. Good good stuff. I failed at taking any pictures at all, so for more pictures and write-ups, go check out Teresa - who modelled a very cute and very new FO for the event, Mary - please go tell her she does NOT have a whale stomach, or Jillian - who for some reason I had expected to see bring about 30 FO's with her given the dizzying speed with which she seems to be finishing projects these days.

That's all for now! Before you go though, BB sends farewell kisses to all who visit chez Spaz. Have a great week!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tangled Yoke Cardigan Finished!

Tangled Yoke Cardigan
Pattern by Eunny Jang in Interweave Knits Fall 2007
Materials: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool (65% wool/35% silk. 191 yds per 50g skein) 265g in color 13 (light blue). Size US4 and US3 Addi Turbo and Knitpicks Options 24 & 32" circulars.
Gauge: Flat - 24 sts and 36 rows/4". Circular - 26 sts and 36 rows/4".
Finished size: 34" bust when buttoned, 20.5" long from neck to hem.

Started: August 8, 2007
Finished: August 23, 2007

None - at least not any intentional ones. My sleeves were measuring a bit short when I came to the part in the pattern where I was supposed to join them to the body. I ended up adding in an extra increase spaced out the same as the previous increases and knit an extra 10 rounds to get the correct length sleeves. I then decreased out these extra stitches half way up the section that's knit even after joining the sleeves to the body.

I really like this sweater. After the initial shock of doing cables for the first time in many many months - perhaps even a year? - the cable section went by at a reasonable clip. It was utterly amazing watching the pretzels form before my eyes and those 5 into 1 decreases sounded a whole lot worse when reading the instructions than they actually were knitting.

The only thing that I might tweak on this pattern is to add some sort of turning row for the collar. Other than that, I think the design has everything I like in a sweater. Wearability, a little design element to keep things interesting, but not too much going on so as to take forever to knit or give you a headache. The pattern itself is well written - I might even say there's more instruction than you might really need. But it was appreciated as I didn't run into any problems at all or find any errors in the pattern in the size I knit.

I'm still not 100% sold on the buttons. The ones here are like perfectly round pearls, but they don't hold the sweater closed so well and they might be a touch small for the button holes. But until I find a better alternative, this is what I'm going with.

As for the silky wool, I'll reiterate how much I like the finished fabric, but not so much the experience knitting with it. It's probably the nature of tweedy yarns, but switching back to my Anastasia socks after spending two weeks straight working on this was heavenly. MMM - Koigu. Right... the silky wool was a great yarn substitute, and hey, it's even on sale right now at WEBS for only $3.50! I ended up yet again with a ball plus 0.7 of another left over, so I should be able to get a pair of gloves out of the leftovers. That would make 2 sweaters and a pair of gloves for less than a pound of yarn? Sweet.

BTW, I'm noting in the picture above that indeed I do have a sputnik shaped head. DH always teases me that my head is proportioned to my body more like a baby than an adult. I never notice this when I look in the mirror, but in the picture taken from above, my head is giNORmous! Maybe that's why he thinks my head is so large... he's always looking down on it! Or maybe it's the new haircut... I think I look a bit like a lightbulb with it. Eh... it'll grow out eventually. DH made me take the profile shot... I was thinking it was for the sweater, but now I think it's for the haircut. Damn that DH!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Ready she ain't

So generally whenever presented with a brand new baby to ogle, people try to hand the baby over to me. Some think this will make me want one more, I guess. Usually, I end up making a face that makes it fairly clear that this is the worst possible idea. It looks a bit like this:
Or if you're lucky and I managed to take the baby and get it AND me reasonably comfortable and not crying, I might still look like What the heck am I supposed to do with this now? For example:
But then a miracle occurred this weekend and I managed to actually hold BB and he didn't cry the whole time. Actually, we managed to spend a bit of time checking each other out. I'm probably biased, but I think he's really darned cute. This is also the FO picture I had promised for the Harvey Sweater. In case anyone is curious, I measured BB and his chest is about 14 inches, he's 3 weeks old and weighs about 9 pounds and the newborn sized sweater fits really quite nicely with some room to spare.

Also this weekend, I made a bit more progress on the TYC. The sleeves were joined, and the underarm stitches grafted and ends so far woven in. And then I hit the wall. I zoomed through the 3 inches of yoke (half a ball!) and then came to a screeching halt once I arrived at the chart. It took me a whopping 2.5 hours to do 2 rows of the chart (and one of those rows was just purling). My advice is to look at the chart carefully. I missed a knit stitch in between the two cable crossings on the first row of the chart and so had to tink back half the row. Add on to that the fact that I had an extremely hard time cabling without a cable needle with the 1 into 5 increase stitches and that's how you get one row taking 2 hours. Guh. I just hope that the rest of the chart doesn't take near as long...

At least it looks like it's fitting so far...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sleeve island

Thanks everyone who provided such positive feedback on my last post. The recommendations for cookbooks look great and I'll definitely look into them. I just know that there's a way that DH and I can compromise here - after all he's just looking out for my health. I'm starting with cutting back on the amount of actual meat that I consume and then I'll take it from there. DH pretty much went cold turkey and hasn't had any probelms adjusting, though he's not strict about it. He'll still have a bite of my food if he wants to try it.

Anyway, back to the knitting. I'm working exclusively on the Tangled Yoke Cardigan right now as I just bought a little spaghetti strap dress for my BIL's wedding over Labor Day weekend, and I think this cardigan would match nicely in case the weather decides to be cold that day. I finished the lower body up to the armholes over the weekend - and yes, it took less than two full balls (yardage still amazes me):

I will say that I didn't break the yarn after finishing the body as I didn't see a real need to do so - the instructiions for joining the sleeves to the body say to rejoin yarn back to the body exactly where you left off, so I figured I'd just use up the rest of the ball and have one less end to weave in.

Now I'm working on both sleeves at the same time. The garter rib in the round is much more bearable as I had predicted, but I was still happy to switch to stockinette above the cuffs. And I had wondered why people call it sleeve island. Now I think it's probably because people feel like they're trapped on a desert island they've been working on these sleeves for so long. Mine are coming along okay - about 2/3 of the sleeve rows are complete here. But it looks kind of short. I can never figure out how long sleeves are supposed to be in seamless sweaters, but seeing as I'm not terribly tall, I'm guessing that the sleeve length in the pattern should be just fine.

BTW, I experienced a rarity with this project. I met stitch AND row gauge. I didn't block my swatch, so we'll see if this stays true in the end. I know, I know - I'm totaly living on the wild side.

Monday, August 13, 2007

A slight detour

Normally I post nothing in the least bit controversial because honestly I'm just not a controversial person. And you're all knitters, so you naturally want to see my knitting. Which, by the way, I will digress back on track to say that the Tangled Yoke Cardigan is progressing nicely. I've finished the main body up to the armholes and have just started the sleeves. So far so good.

Oh, so the detour. A fair bit of whining and temper tantrum-ing has been going on at Chez Spaz as of late. Okay, so maybe it's just the Spaz doing the whining and not so much DH. But anyway, I just want to put this out there. DH read a book recently which has made him convinced that a vegan diet has enormous health benefits. He claims that the book gives plenty of evidence that eating animal derived products has a high correlation to not only heart disease (as I probably would have expected) but also to cancer, osteoporosis and a host of other diseases.

Now I would never try to argue against eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes and reducing the amount of fats, cholesterol, and processed sugars that seem to be everywhere. But I can't buy into the idea that skim milk, eggs, cheese in moderation, and lean meats and fishes are bad. Maybe I'm a product of a highly effective ad campaign launched by the meat and dairy industry, but an entire category of food can't simply be BAD. I'm sure that anything in excess is to be avoided.

So anyway, this has sparked heated debate about what Chez Spaz as a whole should be eating. I apologize in advance if I offend, but I can't help it. I LIKE meat. I was raised on meat. I ate meat at just about every meal. A meal felt like a side dish if there wasn't some sort of meat involved. I've always been a picky eater, and many dinnertimes in my youth were spent in a stare down to see who would give in first. It wasn't easy to get me to eat at least the minimum amount of food, so my parents often resorted to bargaining with me to at least eat the meat if nothing else. So I'm used to the idea of meat being a highly integral part of my diet. I don't change readily, so I'm not doing so well with the idea of mostly NOT eating meat.

Anyway, the question for you is, are any of you vegan or mostly vegan? If so, why are you vegan, how did you successfully make the tranition, and do you have any recommendations? I'm currently aiming for most meals to be meat free and allowing dairy products. But even this is hard for me.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Enough of the cute stuff

It's time for some boring WIP pictures. Or rather 2 WIP and one semi-FO.

Harvey Kimono
Pattern by Louisa Harding in Natural Knits for Babies and Moms
Materials: Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK (100% wool, 131 yds per 50 g) 100g in color 218. US5 and US6 needles.
Gauge: about 5.5 spi
Finished size: 17.5" circumference, 7.5" long. I supposedly followed the 3 mo size, but it looks closer to newborn size.

Started: July 20, 2007
Finished: August 7, 2007

Uncomplicated pattern and awfully cute. The length is a bit short, but that's mentioned in the pattern errata which I didn't consult. Oh well. I'll just need to find buttons, and then find BB and get a real life FO shot for y'all to up the cute meter. Also, I'm guessing that the fact that I ended up with a sweater that's newborn sized may answer the question as to why I only used enough yarn to get a newborn sized sweater despite following the directions for the 3 mo sweater. Eh. Babies change sizes quickly and I'm told this on is a bit on the skinny side.

As you can see, I cast on for something new. Yes, this is the much hyped Tangled Yoke Cardigan by Eunny Jang in the Fall 2007 Interweave Knits. The Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool seemed a perfect substitute for the Felted Tweed since both yarns appear to be sport-DK weight and have a wooly tweedy look to them. And I just so happened to have the exact amount in my stash that the pattern called for that's been marinating for two years since I finished Hopeful. But, oh, how I forgot how much I dislike knitting with Silky Wool. Don't get me wrong, I love the knitted fabric, but the process ain't so much for me. Good thing I'm a end-product knitter.

Also, can you believe how much sweater I'm getting out of one ball of yarn? That's half of the body you see up there. And thank goodness the garter rib is done! I couldn't see the difference between reverse stockinette and garter stitch for squat on the wrong side of this piece. At least the sleeves will always have the right side facing so I won't have to worry about that again...

Lastly, here are the Anastasia socks that I started on July 29. I whipped out this much progress by Friday, but then put them down when I got home from my business trip. I feel un-productive working on socks at home when I know I can be working on full sized garments. Is that weird?

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Okay, you can puke now

from all of the cutesy baby pictures that follow. But hey, I can't help it, I want to see more of BB at least virtually since I can't be there in reality for another two weeks.

So I present you with the cutest knitwear model of the year (a bit pinker now that last week's jaundice has subsided):
Grandma and grandpa also like to get in on the cute action:

And dear brother - he looks like he's a bit jealous of his wife's pregnancy, dontcha think?
There would be actual knitting content, but let's face it, even knitters prefer cute baby pictures over boring WIP pictures. Quickly though, I finished one baby sweater, am 99% done with another, turned the heel on a pair of Anastasia socks, and need to rip back on a pair of grey socks now that I know the recipient's correct shoe size. I'm also likely to cast on the tangled yoke cardigan from IK Fall 2007 and maybe even the summer sky pattern from August Magknits, both because I have stuff in the stash that I can use for these. Never mind that I just bought like 4 bags of yarn for projects for lace style. Oh, knitters are a fickle bunch...

Monday, July 30, 2007

On names, part 2

I did get a chance to visit with my grandparents last week and get a bit more information out of them about names. Turns out that they gave DH a name while they were on a naming roll after successfully coming up with something quite nice for Baby Buddha.

So for DH, they gave him the name Wang-Aun. Which when I first asked what it meant, my mother told me, well Wang, that's just a name. And Aun, well that means "peace". Which yields - that's right - peaceful wang. I'll tell you what... DH certainly is no peaceful wang. If anything, that wang is pretty darned aggressive.

But then my grandparents clarified that Wang can be translated into Brilliant - not like supa smaht or anything, but more of the "awesome" variety as one might observe in England. I like that much better, Brilliant Peace.

Does your name have any special meaning?

Friday, July 27, 2007

That's right... it's auntie spaz to you

And I must say... my nephew has just the cutest little buddha face I've ever seen. Baby Buddha was born early early early on Wednesday morning about 10 days early.

And the best thing about a brand new baby? Little baby toes... I can make socks for those pretty quickly, right?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Well, I've been tagged by Kate for a meme, so here goes. I think this is a variation on the 7 things meme, except that it's 8 things. Okay, here goes.

Players start with eight random facts about themselves.

People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. I have an unnatural fascination with cute furry animals. DH couldn't help but be amazed at my capacity for giggling at the thought of sheep! running! in a row! on a hill! while we were in a country where sheep outnumbered people 20:1.
2. My favorite food is bacon. Wrap any food in bacon and it's immediately better. I can only imagine bacon wrapped bacon, but that might be a bit much.
3. Despite my love for all pork flavored foods, I'm doing my best at eating vegan at least some of the time. Now ask me how well that's going.
4. I have an addictive personality - witness the binge knitting that goes on around here, and in case you haven't noticed, a nosedive in my knitting output since the acquisition of a certain video game which I'm too embarassed to even talk about. Don't tell DH that I'm waiting for this to come out...
5. I don't really have a favorite color, but it appears that I tend to knit only in pinks, reds, purples, blues, and greens. Hmm... That pretty much just leaves black and white out, now doesn't it? Oh wait, there's still yellow and orange. Um, okay, there must be a reason why I always had a giant stack of yellow, orange and brown construction paper left over in elementary school.
6. My memory is not what it used to be. I used to memorize everything from my driver's license number, to all my credit card numbers, to my car's VIN, to my friends' SSN. That last one, let me tell you, used to freak people out. Now I can't even seem to remember my DH's birthday!
7. I've never *knock on wood* been to the hospital. Well, work doesn't count, does it?
8. I've never had a favorite number. But if I were an actual traditional and therefore superstitious Chinese girl, then I'd be extrememly happy to be ending on an 8th random fact about me. As it were, I just ran out of interesting facts considering I did the 100 things meme a couple of years ago and not much has changed.

Anyway, who to tag? How about recent visitors to chez spazalot?
1. Batty
2. Dave
3. Faith
4. Jo
5. Carol
6. Aura
7. Sara
8. Annette

And because it's been so long since I've posted an FO - a shift from the days when I'd just post the next FO when it was done, or maybe even save up 3-4 of them at a time - the lowdown on Christmas gift number 1.

Peek-A-Boo Cloche
Pattern by Mona Schmidt in Lace Style
Materials: Reynolds Soft Sea Wool (100% wool. 162 yd per 50g) 35g in 320 (purple) and 45g in 221 (charcoal)
Gauge: 7.5 spi
Finished size: About 19" circumference

Started: July 9, 2007
Finished: July 15, 2007

Not much to say here. It went really slowly because of the game I was(am) playing non-stop, punctuated here and there with fits of Harry Potter 6 reading. The pattern is perfectly written and I love the idea of a two layer hat where the contrasting layer shows through. I just wish that I had picked more contrasting colors. You can barely see the purple underlayer peeking through the charcoal top layer.

Reynolds soft sea wool has a whole lot of twist to it and feels not unlike Koigu. I haven't washed it yet, but if it similarly softens up in the wash, then I'm in love! And how could you not? The yardage for the price is ridiculous! It also has a slightly textured feel to the fabric when knit up even in stockinette.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How do I hate me... let me count the ways!

I quickly solved the problem of having nothing on the needles and decided that the 4 for me, one for you problem has gone on for too long and I cast on for the peek a boo cloche on Monday night. Here we have it, and also progress on our heirloom tomatoes as well!
I've just turned the brim to start knitting the outside lace part and I'm loving the whole idea of a dual layered hat of contrasting colors. I can swap out the lace pattern (assuming I can figure out the decrease thing) and I'll have a whole new pattern! Great idea Mona!
BTW, those are lady bug stitch markers made by Kate. Aren't they too cute?

Anyway, but that's not why I'm apparently masochistic. Re-reading that last post and planning for hats for everyone for Christmas is sounding a bit like I hate myself. But even better, how about this: An ENTIRE lace sweater made from fuzzy unphotographable black yarn that needs to be seamed. Pshah! More pain please!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

extra ravelry invite

okay, so apparently I was a touch on the anxious side when I first found Ravelry. I put my name in the queue twice. So if anyone out there hasn't signed up for Ravelry yet, leave a comment and make sure you specify your email address and I'll forward my invite to you.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Purple Rain Socks

Purple Rain Socks
Pattern: Based on stitch pattern #222 (Tiny Scales) in Vogue Stitchionary vol. 1
Materials: Socks that Rock Lightweight (100% wool, 370 yd per 4oz skein) 1 skein in Purple Rain colorway. Size US0 Addi Turbos.
Gauge: about 10 spi
Finished size: 6.25" leg from top of heel shaping to cuff, 7.25" circumference, 8.75" heel to toe.

Started: June 12, 2007
Finished: July 8, 2007

I needed a stitch pattern that would minimize any pooling inherent in handpainted yarn because let's face it, this spaz doesn't deal well with unpredictability. I'm far too square to just let it all hang out. So I thought that the Tiny Scales stitch pattern worked well for the handpainted yarn so that it highlighted the changes in the color while not being too busy to get lost. Just enough texture to make it interesting, but not too taxing either so that I couldn't read HP5 at the same time. :-)

In the end, this stitch pattern has no elasticity whatsoever, so precise fit is an issue here. I just hope that this sock will not shrink when I wash it! But, it's also a super dense fabric, so I expect that come winter time, my toes will be extra toasty in these babies. Too bad that's another 6 months away...

Also, can it be that I have nothing on the needles right now? Nothing cast on at all? I think my next project will be Lacy Waves, the Norah Gaughan sweater or the Peek-A-Boo Cloche by Mona Schmidt both from Lace Style. I'm even considering getting a head start on my holiday gift knitting. At least the hat could qualify for both. Or maybe Odessa if I could figure out how to get the beads on the yarn. What do y'all think... a flock of hats for everyone I know for Christmas?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Sahara... take two

Thank you everybody for the really kind words on my Sahara. Given the positive response on the last post, you're probably all going to think I'm a nutter (sorry, been re-reading/listening to too much Harry Potter lately) when I report what I've been up to.

So DH thought that the top didn't look bad per se, just a bit like a hippie top - a smock if you will. That wasn't the look I was going for and I decided that it was because the neck border just extended too far down the front of the sweater. I knew correcting these issues would require a lot of ripping and I didn't like the idea of all that work being unravelled.

But, in classic Spaz fashion, I couldn't take it anymore. On July 4, I celebrated my independence the only way a knitter could. I ripped back an FO. I ripped out the neck trim and ripped back the bottom all the way to the third waist decrease. This is before stitches are cast on for the bottom of the neck and the piece is started in the round. So I ended up spacing my decreases evenly apart, every 6 rounds, thus removing about 2 inches from the total length and raising the neck line up about 2 inches. I tacked together the front a bit higher and the result: a slightly more petite sweater that I'm much more comfortable wearing. Even if no one else can tell the difference and you're all calling for a straight jacket.

Let me also say that if you don't wash your frogged ramen yarn before re-using it, your stockinette is going to look like total crap. But take heart, at least in this case everything evened out nicely after a quick soak and I really can't tell that this was ripped out and reknit. Well, except that I like it more now.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Wow, this is the most posts this year on a single project. I must have felt guilty after the Destash blog people said I didn't post enough.

Pattern by Wendy Bernard available at Stitch Diva Studios
Materials: Plymouth Royal Bamboo(100% bamboo. 93yd per 50g ball) 330g in color 24. Size US7 and US5 Knitpicks Options.
Gauge: About 5 spi.
Finished size: 29" bust, 25" waist, 23" length when laid flat

Started: June 25, 2007
Finished: June 30, 2007

I spaced out the waist decreases and increases to be every 6 rows for the first 3 decreases, then every 8 and added one more set of decreases/increases. I omitted the shirt tail hem and knit the bottom straight for 8 rounds before starting the diamond rib pattern.

I'm not terribly happy with how my yarn substitution came out. The bamboo itself has a great sheen to it and is silky and cool to the touch. It was a touch annoying because with the pointy tips of the KP Options, I ended up splitting the 12 2-ply strands quite often. I had envisioned that 3" of negative ease would be stifling, but in this yarn, it feels almost loose. I probably could have gotten away with knitting the next size down. I also didn't know that this would grow so much vertically when worn. Laid flat, the garment is the same dimensions as the schematic shows, but worn, it's almost tunic length and the neck line is at my navel. I suspect, however, that this might be a row gauge issue. I thought that I was getting the same row gauge, and so followed the directions row by row instead of measuring. Damn that lying gauge swatch!

If I were to make this again in this yarn, I'd probably shorten everything up. I'd probably also add in a bit of shoulder, back of neck, and armhole shaping to give this more of a set-in sleeve look. As it is, it fits me more like a modified drop shoulder sweater as my actual shoulder width is closer to 12" compared to the sweater's 14".

I should point out, however, that the pattern as written gives very good results without all the fuss of this extensive shaping. The only reason I consider adding shaping is because I just plain like doing it. It helps keep my attention.

But what do y'all think? Is this a keeper for me or should I find someone who's taller and more long waisted than me as a lucky recipient?

Monday, July 02, 2007

on babies and names

Since I have absolutely nothing to show you today as my Sahara is still blocking (yes, I finished it on Saturday - I had a bit of a knitting binge while DH was away last week), I have only one random thought to share. Babies are freaking everywhere.

First of all, I'd like to give a little plug for my friend Peggy who is trying to start a career as a doula. I had no idea what a doula was before Peggy started talking about it, but they sound like great resources for expectant mothers. I'd also have to say that Peggy is probably the best person to have around when you're giving birth because, let's face it, having your nether parts exposed to strangers as you're in the worst pain you could imagine leaves no room for niceties. Peggy is one of the straightest talking people I've met, with a real warmth to boot, so I think this combination will serve her well in this chosen career. Go check out her website, Little Bird Birth.

Next, my brother and sister-in-law are nearing the arrival of my nephew. They're either undecided on a name, or being secretive about it as they haven't shared anything with me. The closest thing I have to a name for him is the name my grandfather gave him. See, my grandfather on my dad's side gets to name all the kids who have his name. So what's his name? Well, for lack of being able to spell in Chinese, it's Wah-Sun. Or as my parents would say, Watson. Good thing that's going to relegated to middle name status or this poor kid will end up with too many Sherlock jabs. As with all Chinese names, there is a literal meaning - his name means something along the lines of "problem-free Chinese person". Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, eh? But hey, that's a whole lot better than the literal translation of my Chinese name, "precious flower peasant". ugh, I'll stick with Jen thanks.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Can't wrap this

I'm such a child of the 80's. Now I have samples of Superfreak going through my head and images of a man wearing ginormous pants with a crotch down to THERE side stepping across my television screen. But there's a point here - I can't short row wrap and turn. For example:

My purple rain socks (again, what a nod to one of my lingering favorites artists from the 80's) are just past the heel turn. Being that I found just the right number of stitches to avoid any kind of pooling whatsoever, I wasn't keen on the idea of doing a bunch of increases for the gusset and ruining all that perfect distribution. So short row heel it was. But I've decided that no matter what I do, one side of the short row heel always looks a bit looser, wonkier than the other - in this picture it's on the right foot. Maybe I'm just anal, but I can see it, and it bothers me at least until I'm finished knitting.

Exhibit two: I had a marathon night listening to the Goblet of Fire and I made it through the shirt tail short rows on Sahara. I've always had trouble picking up wraps on the opposite side from when I originally wrapped, but it has never been more evident than on this piece. There's just way more holes than there should be. I may have to go back and rip out the hem and redo this. As it is, I forgot to change needle sizes on the border anyway, so I'm thinking that maybe the border will neaten up on the correct needle size.

Anyway, I leave you then with well wishes for the upcoming weekend (oh, it can't come soon enough... my DH comes home!) and progress pics on my only two remaining WIPs. I got sick of seeing zero progress on the Mason Dixon baby sweater and the Ram's Horn Jacket, so they're officially gone now. I will also go on record saying that I'm hoping that the neckline closes up a bit after putting the border on Sahara...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

An actual WIP

It's occurred to me that I've gotten away from showing any progress whatsoever on this blog, as if these projects just materialize out of thin air. Some have even commented on the speediness of these items. I have a very good explanation for that. I've been knitting A LOT. In the past 2.5 weeks, I've been on a plane for over 20 hours and sitting in airports for probably 6-8 more hours and then staying in a hotel room for several nights in a row. Of course I'll have my knitting to keep me busy, and so, yes, I make quite a bit of progress. Plus, DH is out of town, so I can indulge in the knit addiction when he's not around while listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks for the first time. I find them quite enjoyable!

Anyway, so I thought I'd actually show you something in progress. I cast on for Sahara last night in Plymouth Royal Bamboo. This is the first time I've tried bamboo before, and I'm liking it so far. It doesn't seem all that different from knitting with cotton except that it doesn't feel as dry. The shininess and cool to touch properties are quite enjoyable. And boy does this stuff DRAPE.

Of course, I hope that all of these things are good qualities for Sahara. So far, the instructions have been pretty basic. I was sort of surprised that there wasn't more shoulder, neck, and armhole shaping in a garment described as "pinpoint fit." But hey, if it turns out the same, I'm all for eliminating the fussiness! So here I am after joining the fronts to the back after the armhole shaping.

Lastly, thanks everyone for the postive feedback on my Coachella. I'm planning on wearing it later today, so here's hoping it holds up to a few hours of wear.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Pattern: Coachella by Fathom Harvill in Knitty Summer 2007
Materials: Knit One, Crochet Too Wick(53% Soy, 47% polypropylene. 120yd per 50g ball) 190g in Avocado. Size 7 and 9 Knitpicks Options.
Gauge: About 4.25 spi.
Finished size: 26" chest when laid flat

Started: June 20, 2007
Finished: June 23, 2007

I spaced out the waist increases to every 8 rows instead of every 4. I reversed the armhole shaping on the upper front so that it was k1, ssk, work to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. I picked up stitches around the armhole (1 for every cast on or bound off st, and 3 for every 4 rows), worked 2 rows in twisted stockinette and bound of.

A quick and easy knit. Well, except if you count that I cast on for this in the next larger size at a smaller gauge (4.75 spi, slightly looser than the labelled gauge as the pattern suggests) and had to rip it out after deciding that it was just way too stiff. I was already at the point where the fronts and backs were rejoined.

The mod about the armhole finishing I thought was necessary because I tried this on without it and ended up feeling like I was a bit too exposed. Putting in a few rounds at the armhole helped to prevent the armholes from stretching out way too much and added a 0.25-0.5 inches extra coverage. So yes, I am wearing a racerback bra in this picture, and it seems to stay relatively put.

My only issue with this top is that in the smallest size, it appears that the front drape is just a little bit too much. I'm not sure how I would modify this at all, but I wonder if one could cast on a touch fewer stitches at the neckline and gradually increase to the correct number of stitches by the time you get part way through the armhole shaping.

I knit this up in Wick mostly because it was already in my stash. I had picked it up at a 75% off sale in Hollywood a couple of months back, so it was the bargain basement price of $8 for all their remaining Avocado balls. I had no idea what I was going to make with this, but I knew because of the polypro content that I wanted it to be a tank for those ridiculously hot days when the Santa Ana winds are blowing.

My thoughts on Wick: well, it's kind of stretchy, and it has a chained construction to it. So it feels like there's a thread or something wrapping the core and I was constantly snagging that thread. It didn't pull back into place, so if you're planning to use this yarn, I might suggest being careful not to stab the yarn, or use your blunter needles. I had a hard time maintaining gauge because of the slight stretchiness of the yarn, but most of it seemed to come out in the blocking. Which, I might add, for a yarn composed of absolutely nothing animal related, it smelled remarkably like a wet dog while taking a bath. Go figure.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ten years ago...

Ten years ago, I had just graduated from college and was driving cross country to settle in to my first job in what I had affectionately referred to as the armpit of America. I was a synthetic organic chemist way back then, which basically meant that on my performance evaluation, if I hadn't blown anyone up that day, I was meeting expectations. Let's just say that I didn't always meet expectations.

This week, I was back in the armpit, commuting up and down Route 1 and marvelling at just how unwilling New Jersey drivers are at letting you in their lane even when you're signalling. I was struck by how how weird it was to be back in the same place starting a new job once again. Only this time, it was ten years later and Hong Kong wasn't in the midst of being handed back to the Chinese and I'm not in any particular danger of hurtling hot silicon oil and shards of glass at anyone.

Lest you worry, no, I'm not moving to the Garden State... I was just there for the training.

The point being that I started my new job this week! It's going well - or at least as well as one can expect when all you're talking about is the company vision and how to log in to your computer. But oh, how I missed the pizza. As much as I love the food in LA, I still haven't found pizza here that rivals the pizza at D'Italia's. Sigh.

Anyway, having travelled to the east coast two weeks in a row now, I have managed to get in quite a bit of knitting time what with 10 hour airport/airplane wait times each way. So, I cast on for Coachella earlier this week, ripped it out a third of the way through, and then cast on again on Wednesday and finished it today. Here it is blocking and I'll try to get a pic sometime soon when it's dried and I can find a bra to wear underneath it.

And since I haven't posted WIP pictures in about 30 thousand months, here's the texture stitch I had mentioned before for that hank of irresistible STR Purple Rain. Also, you may notice that there's no pooling of any sort at this sock's 68 stitch size... happy dance!