Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Recently Finished Knitting

Stuffed bear from a kit that someone gave me at the last knitting retreat. Originally kitted and sold by Monarch Knitting in Pacific Grove. Yarn is some mint green textured acrylic baby yarn and pattern is written by the owner of Monarch Knitting, Joan Williams. I over stuffed it so it looks more bearish, with the full belly and all. There was embroidery thread to stitch on the eyes, mouth and nose, but I'm too lazy for that. Plus Teddy looks like a pretty good match with Ms. Black. Maybe one day I'll find good looking eyes for both of them together.

An angel pillow top, my first major intarsia project. I don't usually do color work, still don't like it. Texture and structure are more of my type.

The pattern is from Nicky Epstein's Knitting for Your Home . Her angel is a blonde and mine has a full head of gray hair (gray mohair left over from an afghan. I'm dreaming my own will one day grow that long again). The wing is Fun Fur, and skirt is two shades of purple from Black Water Abbey Yarns.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A Decade of Trying

Bucky the pug dog is eleven years old. We have been taking him to Pugtacular, put up by the Northern California Pug Club, almost every year of his life. It used to be held at the Santa Clara County Fair Ground in San Jose, then it was moved San Mateo, and the recent years we've been trekking up to Antioch for our annual pug fit.

Every year Bucky enters the pug race, and every year there was always a spiffy little girl pug beat him by a fraction of a nose. We all thought Bucky was going to go down the history like Michelle Kwon, a permanent second place holder.

Then again sometimes in the deepest of my heart, I know if Bucky lives long enough he's going to win the race some day, even if he's the last one left standing.

This year was finally the time. The judge gave him a five-foot "disability advantage" along with another eleven-year-old (the rest of the pack were all seven and eight year-olds). Bucky ran with all his might to the cookie.

Fifteen minutes later Mom and Pug won the third place in "Pug and Owner Look Alike". We won second place when Bucky was a year old. The gray hair didn't help much.

The retired champion resting at home.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Knitterly Gifts

Through Knittalk gift exchange, I received this wonderful package from Anne. They are:
1. Felted oven mitten in a lovely neutural colorway, nice and thick and comfortable. Even has a loop to hang it up.
2. About 500m of hand dyed fingering weight alpaca, enough for a very nice lace scarf. It's heavenly soft. I'm digging in my pattern books and magazines for just the perfect pattern.
3. A chocolate box from Schakolad Chocolate Factory . It's a box made of chocolate, with truffles inside. Absolutely cute and delicious!
Don't you just love gift exchange? Especially with someone far away, you never know what kinds of yummy stuff will show up at your front door.

I saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus

She didn't see me creep
down the stairs to have a peep

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Blogging Etiquette

I've been wondering about a few things on blogging, and have seen different practices. Since this is sort of new to many of us, I'll just throw out the question and be sure to chime in if you have an opinion (and I know you do). I get a few comments on each blog, some of them are questions, some of them are very nice compliments that I intend to thank you for. I don't want to ignore any of them, but is it right for me to reply in the comments section in my own blog? If I do that, people will have to come back later to see my "Thank You" message. Easier if it's a question, since people would be more inclined to revisit the blog to look for the answer later. I know sometimes I'd blog surf and see something nice and leave a comment. Chances are I won't be able to find that blog again even if I want to. Sometimes people reply to the comment through email which means you have to have the commenter's email address. Most blogs are not set up to include an email address, and most of us are not comfortable posting our email addresses in the body of the comment. Most of the time email works well for me with my friends; then since I'm an email junkie with multiple email addresses, if your reply went to my "group" email address, it takes me days or weeks to find it. Another option is to start a new posting to answer all the questions. I don't think it's very efficient, since everyone will have to wade through other people's questions and comments to find what interests you. And again people will have to come back to see the Thank-you's. This seems to be the way columnists work, five people would ask the same question and the writer answers them in one sitting. There is yet the last option that I rather prefer. When you receive a comment you go visit the commenter's blog and say a few nice words. That seems to make everyone happy. After all, we are all in this blogging community and we all contribute to it. What do you think?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

CIC Sweaters and Vests

We picked up a new batch of finished charity knitting from my mom. For CIC (Children in Common) there are eight sweaters and two vests. Henry helped me photograph them and picked the stuffed animals going into the pockets for each garment. The beanie babies are from a Freecycler.

Baa Baa Black Sheep

have you any ..... eyes??

Felted sheep, Ms. Blackie, was from a kit I received in the gift exchange from a recent retreat. Fiber Trend pattern, A Felt Flock, Lite Lopi yarns. She's my first felted stuffed animal, and now my guys demand some white sheep so we have a flock.

But I'm having a great deal of trouble finding eyes for Ms. Blackie. Michael's only has the stick on kind, and I think she needs something can be sewn on, to be more secure, like buttons.

Shall we say, buttons for muttons?

Kirsten's Sweater Done

Last time the sweater didn't look too cool on Ken. Now it's finally done, modeled here by Samantha. The yarn is some self patterning sock yarn, probably Regia; my own pattern. The body is worked in the round to arm holes, then devided for the arm hole and neck decreases. Sleeves are picked up from the arm holes and knitted down while decreasing. The jeans are made by a local quilter, bought at the De Anza Flea Market. Samantha was a Valentine's Day gift from my husband a few years ago, and I finally got around to knit the first doll sweater.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Five Things about me

I've been tagged by Andrew (To Love, Honor and Dismay) to write five things people don't know about me. Let me give it a try:

1. I'm Chinese, as in, I was born, raised and educated in China. I'm fluent in Mandarin, can understand Cantonese, Hakanese and some other smaller dialects. As a student I enjoyed Chinese classics more than any other subject, in turn my Chinese language is beyond grad school level while my formal Chinese education ended at high school. Since I learned most things in Chinese, sometimes I have to mentally translate them into English, such as the name of the planets, medication and math concepts. Occasionally English words get messed up in my head. Last night I asked for pumpkin mousse (chocolate mousse or pumpkin pie?); and this morning I asked Henry how many slides of cheese he wanted on his sandwich.

2. I met my husband through a dating service. This was mentioned on my blog before, but it's so much fun to talk about it here again. Bill's version has much more details. The joke in our family is everyone came with a contract except for Henry who came with no dollar amount or return policy. Bill and our former rescue dog Macie (a West Highland While Terrier, a lovely girl we had for three years) are, shall we say, the cheapest, at $25 a piece. I remain the priciest acquisition, at $500.

3. I have amblyopia (commonly known as lazy eye) and strabismus in my right eye, and only have color with almost no vision. I need to be about three feet in front of the big eye chart to see the biggest letter on top. Unbeknownst to most people, lazy eye is not an eye disease, but a neurological disease. My eyes send two imagines to the brain and the brain only accepts one. Gradually the brain elliminates the second image. In my eyes, the world IS flat. On the other hand my eyes are not in perfect shape either. I'm very far sighted in both eyes, so I started needing reading glasses at twenty seven. At the time I was the youngest in a forty five people group, and one of the only ones toting a pair of reading glasses around on my neck.

4. I studied Shakespeare's sonnets in college, on my own, and also enjoyed Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese. Chinese literature is 90% poetry which is all about rhythm and rhyme. Novels and essays only exist in recent history (that's about 500 years in China). Sonnet is closest form of English literature to Chinese poetry. I learned to write poems in second grade, in Chinese of course; and never wrote poems in English -- never wrote much else in English for that matter, other than emails and now blog. Most of my writings were lost when I moved to the US.

5. I don't know how to swim, despite many hours of lessons in my childhood.

There are quite a few more in my list, but this is supposed to be five things, so I'll stop.

I'll tag Lesley, Sarah, Jocelyn, Cris and Larissa.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Finished Fish Story

First draft of Fish was butchered by Blogger, here is a new version. Leave a comment on my blog and tell us what you think. I'd like to see an illustration of the last chapter from a talented artist.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Never under estimate a girl's head

even on a doll ... Kirsten's sweater is partially done, front and back, and a lovely V neck. It doesn't go over Kirsten's full head of lush blonde hair. Looks a bit large on Ken, though it does go over his cute little head.

rip it, rip it, rip it ...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Coat Knit Along, Bucky

I posted my desire to knit Uptown Coat to Knittalk, and now there are two other knitters want to join me for a knit along (one of them using a different pattern). We started a knit along blog, Coat Knit Along (what else), but no one has started yet. Working on the black sheep and Kirsten's sweater, pictures later. Bucky is moping in the corner cause Larissa called him a c*t. We should make a video at the next Feb99 gathering so you can hear our voices. Bucky was up half the night, sometimes shaking, did manage to go out and potty but seemed strained. Then he refused to eat this morning, not a good sign for a pug. He had a liver treat that we got from the Halloween party, maybe he's having trouble digesting it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Q & A about Uptown Coat

Thank you for all who had looked at the Uptown Coat. Now to answer your questions: Lesley said… Can 1 woman have too much yarn? Vivian: No. Monica said… I think they would make a GORGEOUS coat...when will you start?! (The pattern you pictured is really nice.) Vivian: between me and the coat, there is a black sheep (half way up the body), another hat I want to try out the pattern, and the sweater for Kirsten. And most importantly, I need to finish (really really finish!) the De Colores Jacket. Then I can start thinking about swatching for the coat. Cindy said… Not that I know one thing about fashion of any sense - but I think the coat would be pretty with the colors you have. However, that's a pretty long one in the picture. I don't think you should go too much below the knee (that's not flattering for anyone). Vivian: Now that's an idea. I don't need a coat that long anyway. I should look at the measurement on the pattern and see where it falls, and maybe shorten it a bit. Ahrisha said… Very nice coat. Like you said long and sleek. . .and I love the Tam too, but then I love hats. Isn't it wonderful to finally decide and just get on with it? Vivian: Well, if I shorten the coat there will be plenty of yarn left over for a tam. A fair isle tam pattern shouldn't be hard to find. Tam and beret are my favorite hat shapes. Thanks for the brainstorming!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Uptown Coat

I've been staring at this stash of Paton's Classic Wool for a long time. They are my accumulated purchases from Michael's when Classic Wool was on sale. They cuddle in this little shelf by my bed side; they are the first things I see in the morning when I get up, and last things I see at night before lights out. There are eleven balls of blue, three balls each of purple (behind the wires if you can see the color) and blue/red/purple variegated; and one ball each of cardinal red and blue turquoise. Some days they want to be a warm coat, with the blue as main color, purple and variegated as contrast, red and turquoise as small highlights. This coat is from Knitters Fall 99, called Southwest Goes Uptown, by Lily Chin. I like the feminine shape, most other coat are more like square sacks.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

De Colores, Finished Hat, Gartered Stripes

A minor discovery about the De Colores jacket -- it's simply too wide and too square for my taste. If I hold the front like this, making it a double breasted jacket, the back fits a lot better. I lose one panel on the front, that will have to be OK. The back view, no more tilting. Now I need to pull my acts together and finish the crochet cuffs and weave in the ends. Finding the buttons will be fun. Hat pattern from Pattern-A-Day calendar. Knitted in one piece side ways; cabled braid on the band and the body is short rowed wedges. Three needle bind off to fuse the last row and cast on edge together. The yarn is an 100% wool from Lion Brand. Bucky thinks it looks pretty cool too. Stripe up the Band, by Candace Eisner Strick, yarn is Ellen's 1/2 Pint one strand hand painted variegated wool and one strand custom dyed lavender/purple wool. Incredibly lovely yarn as always, so far all garter stitch pattern. I only work on this a row or two at a time, to enjoy the yummy yarn, and keep from getting bored with the repetitive motion.

Happy Birthday Bucky!

My baby turns eleven today and we celebrate with a cheesecake from Wholefoods

Koolaid Dyeing with Henry

Start with a nice ball of wool. Henry wound it into a skein using Knitty Knotty. If you are a regular muggle and don't have a Knitty Knotty, back of the chair or a volunteer's arms will do. Here is a nice skein of yarn. Henry chose the lemon flovor. Dye bath is made. I mixed the powder in hot water since the heat will help set the color. Throw in the victim, make sure the yarn is complete submerged. More heat. More stirring. After a good rinse, a skein of wool in the shade of lemonade is drying on the counter.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Moby Dick, Harry Potter, New Knitting, Potluck

I'm chugging along on my next book club read, Moby Dick, actually not read in my case. I have the audio book version from the library, 20 CDs, and this morning just started CD # 9. Think I'll finish before the meeting next Monday? It's a little hard to concentrate listening to a book like this while driving, so my Moby Dick goes along for a ride in the carpool lane, with an occasional stop at Michael's, Trader Joe's, stop for lights (pick up knitting), break for some idiots trying to jump in front, grab badge for the parking lot entrance. My commute has since become wavy and salty, combination of cool California morning fog and freezing New England ocean. How many commuters have a white shark for company?

With my influence (or so I'd like to think), Henry picked up his version on Moby Dick this morning and plan to read it when he hangs out at a sitter's house. We read that one together last year, it's an abridged version for kids, a good one for the story line, characters and language.

Henry's book club is also meeting next week to discuss Happy Potter Book Three, The Prisoner of Azkaban. I've been reading it with Henry every night, mostly for me since the bug has finished it twice already on his own. By any luck I'll be at his book club meeting, or maybe I should invite him to mine too.

On the knitting front, De Colores was blocked again but back in time-out basket, waiting for the final crochet band on the sleeves, and weave in those thousands of ends. I'm much less enthusiastic about the finishing work, for one thing, all of my knit-along friends are not finishing theirs, how can I be motivated. In the mean time, a hat was done the night before, picture to come.

A sweater for Kirsten (American Girl doll) is on the needles, my own free hand knitting, design as it goes. A felted black sheep was cast on last night. Got the kit from the last retreat, hopefully to become my first felted animal. The second toe up sock was started at some point over the weekend, now on the toes.

Last but not least, what's your favorite potluck food? We are invited to a holiday potluck, someone will cook a turkey, and I want to bring some sort of non-dessert platter. Something fresh and tasty, either I can cook or order. Ideas please!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Sent Obi-Wan on the bus this morning with our neighborhood kids, a black kittie, a red ninja and a zoro. By now the kids are already pumped up full of sugar, and the day has just started! Here is a little game while we sit around and wait for the trick o' treaters. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Good Husband's Guide

Since we all had the pleasure of reading The Good Wife's Guide, I created the male version to match it. I'm not brave enough like Cindy to announce that I can use a wife, I'll settle with a husband for now.

The Good Husband's Guide (Copyright 2006)

1. Be home on time for dinner. If your wife says dinner at 6, be sure you arrange your day so you are ready to sit down at dinner table prior to that. If you are late, apologize ahead of time, and explain how such thing will not happen again.

2. Your wife probably took great care to plan ahead for this delicious and healthy meal. Show your appreciation. Thank her for making your favorite dish. Thank her for thinking in your best interest to make you a healthy meal.

3. Prepare yourself. Use your commute time to rest up so you are refreshed upon arriving home. Fix up your suit so every button and zipper is in the right place. You’ve been with a lot of work-weary people, don’t bring them home.

4. Be pleasant and show your happiness to be home. Pay attention to her, notice how she looks (does she have your favorite sweater on? That must be to please you.) and ask her about her day. Show support for her ideas and opinions, after all there are lots of idiots in the world and she might have encountered a couple in the day. It is your duty to protect her from everything bad and ugly.

5. Clear away the clutter. To start off, don’t leave any clutter around. If your wife has cleaned the house, show your appreciation for her effort by offering to hire a maid.

6. Children and dogs tend to leave messes around, be sure to pick up after them. Run you hand on table and counters and make sure the spilled juice is wiped up. Supervise the children to clean up after themselves when they are old enough. Their future wives will appreciate that.

7. Know your wife’s preferred temperature, and make sure the house is not too cold in the winter or too hot in the summer. This may require an understanding of the operation of a thermometer, take pains to learn to use it. After all, a comfortable wife is a happy wife.

8. Take care of the children. Make sure their hands are washed, teeth are brushed, hair is combed. Keep track of doctor’s visits. Maintain a good supply of seasonal clothing for children so they are not running around in high water pants and bring shame to your family.

9. Minimized noises. Take pains to set dishes and pots and pans down carefully so as they don’t knock around each other as if an earthquake has occurred.

10. Listen to your wife. You might have a dozen important things to tell her, but the moment of arrival is not the time. Let her talk first – remember, her topics of conversation are more important than yours, especially if they concern your children.

11. Make the evening hers. Never complain if dinner is late, instead do your share of the work and make her her favorite dish. Wish her a good time if she goes out for entertainment.

12. Your goal: make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your family can relax and connect.

13. Hold the complains and solve the problems.

14. Make her a comfortable spot in the living room with her favorite books, perfect lighting the way she likes and a cup of her favorite tea. Offer her a massage with the sole purpose of helping her relax.

15. Learn to make the bed her way. Remember how she likes her pillow and cover arranged. Learn when and how to change sheets. Try to understand the science of laundry.

16. Don’t question her actions or judgment. Believe in her. Remember, she’s the lady of the house and will always be fair and truthful. You have no right to question her.

17. A good husband knows his place – his home.

Some Knitting Ramblings

Some of you have noticed that I put a ticker on the bottom of my blog page to show the last time I bought yarn. I meant to put it on the side, but the graph won't resize itself to fit there, so it has to stay on the bottom.

Since the ticker is for yarn purchase, what I bought today probably shouldn't count. The Knitting Answer Book by Margaret Radcliffe. Very small book with plenty of reference for knitting tips and tricks, from cast on to finishing sweater. Would fit nicely in knitting bag. I had a 40% off coupon from Michael's, have to grab something if I'm already there, right?

Also got a Knitters magazine from Michael's the other day. My subscription ran out all by itself, and if I can find it at Michael's why bother with a subscription. I haven't been terribly thrilled about the magazine for the last couple of years, all those scarves just don't keep me warm.

 I re-did the band on the back of my De Clores the other night, still looks a little weird. But if I pull the fronts tighter together, make it a double breasted jacket, the back looks much better. Will bring it to our meeting at Yarndogs tonight to see what others think.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

On Blogging

Interesting question on this website - To Love, Honor and Dismay -- about bloggers. Here is what I think who my readers are: Most of the "regulars" on my blog are my real life friends. When you have a job, kids and family, it's very hard to keep up with friends. We usually see each other once a month at a book club meeting but that's not nearly enough time to exchange all the gossips and whine about our husbands. One of the members started a blog last year and the rest is history. There are other friends of mine that I've met in cyberspace years ago and now turned into real life friends. We have arranged various meetings throughout the years, and know each other fairly well. My cyber friends are usually not much different than real life friends, as in, there are cranky ones and there are sincere, intelligent ones. One's education, mannerism and personality comes through via media, be it face to face interaction, email, or blog entries and comments. Blogging, just like Internet in itself, is a communication tool. Chainsaws are created to chop down trees, but some would rather cut up fellow human. It's up to us to decide how to use the tool.

The Wicked Mind of Pugs and Pug People

We pug people torture our pugs. After all, we are the ones there when the pug puppy decides to get up at 4am and stand on someone's head. Pugs do not have a purpose. They don't hunt, kill mice, or herd; they never bother to run very fast unless there is cheese waiting at the destination; for goodness sake, they don't even look all that good like a poodle to decorate their humans. Pugs are just pugs. They are fat, chunky, sturdy (choose your words), full of dignity. They have their ways in life, you can serve them, worship them, and be sneezed at. We pug people find ways to cope, and humor ourselves for being such pug slaves. And occasionally we humor our pugs too. Bucky never sits still long enough for a neat dress up portrait, nor would he tolerate any clothing on him, the collar is bad enough, thank you very much. But look at these pugs, look at the very last picture, how they manage to keep the fangs in the pug's mouth I'll never know. Those big googlie eyes .....

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sick, Sick, Sick again

For the third time since school started less than two months ago, Henry is sick again. This time scored 104 degrees. I'm on a contract, only get paid for every hour I work. Bill has been working 12 hour days for a project release, and has been sick for two weeks himself. My inlaws are recovering from major surgery. Our sitter is a full time student and I have her only two afternoons a week. Will try to work from home tomorrow, and hopefully get away with it. But I'm really running out of options. Say a prayer, or send some healing vibes, whatever you believe in, we need it.

De Colores in time out

De Colores was blocked and joined, every strip, sleeves and the body. Then there is the crochet band on the bottom of back which created this wonderful little tilt and made the back look more like tail. Think I can pass for a flying nun? Another view of the back, with Bucky wagging his tail in the background. My lovely husband, aka the photographer, wondered rather loudly if the jacket is long enough. Well, it would be perfect length if there is no tilt. A close up look of the band. I could have picked up too many stitches. The cure will require a trip to the frog pond and crochet the band another time. What do you think?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Good Wife's Guide

Ladies, read The Good Wife's Guide and gain some insight on how to better serve your man. Oh please, we are not going There, yet. My poor husband having to live with a less qualified woman. He sure is living in the wrong time.

Update: If you followed a link from Cafe Mom to this blog, just know that the original Good Husband's Guide was posted on this blog first and I'm the original author. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Henry's Summer, and my ramblings

Henry brought home his writing about his summer. It says: "Where did my feet take me this summer? I went to Indiana this summer. We went to see some of moms friends. We went on four air plans. It was an a exciteing trip. Moms friends were called the Feb99 group." My summer was a crash of events full of anger, frustration and desperation. Well, maybe not that bad, but the double layoff and job search and all the rejections are not for the faint of heart. I'm glad my son enjoyed the quick weekend getaway amid all the crisis, domestic and international. Speaking of Feb99, we got a nice fat package today from our friend Lori in Indiana, full of products to help us with Henry's eczema. And a cartoon shows a nekkid guy at the security checkout, hiding his delicacy with a boarding pass; when the lady says, "Boarding Pass please!" One thing I've learned -- friends and family, they are everything.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I did my final play with "the thing" last weekend and now it's officially done. Thanks to my knitting friend Jocelyn, the thing now has a name -- it's an antimacassar, which means I don't have to worry about taking that cushion cover off and washing it for a long time. The color I used is Kool Aid in grape flavor. The yarn is 50% wool, 50% nylon. With the fiber content, mustard yellow plus deep purple turned into dirty earthy brown. Not the most attractive color, but Trinket thinks it's just fine. Here are a few progress pictures for your enjoyment.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pug Quiz

I set up a little quiz about pugs on Sploofus. This site is full of fun quizes and word games, and you can have daily trivia questions emailed to you and earn points. Don't know what you can do with those points yet, and it's fun to see the number grow. You have to sign up at the site to play. If you are extra nice to me, you'll certainly give me your email address, then I can send you the invitation and earn 10,000 referral points in my account. Let me know -- vhkeys at yahoo dot com.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Thing Finished! but other knitting stalled

Casted off The Thing and weaved in all the ends. Haven't blocked it yet; I want to try over dye it, just to see how it might look.

De Colores body strips are all joined, but I find myself dragging my feet (well, hands, maybe) joining the sleeves to the body. Last night I sat through an entire episode of Desperate Housewives and news, with the sweater in my lap, and didn't knit one stitch. Although the joining is a three needle bind off, it's just not as interesting as knitting. Or is it the end of project hesitation? This is my "big" project which I only work on one at a time, I'm not sure what I want to do next.

My first pair of toe up socks, originally planned for Henry and now it's going to CIC. Done with the foot and ready to divide for heel flap.

I've knitted many pairs of socks the "regular" way; this is my first time to do a toe up and my brains are having trouble turning the 3-D picture upside down. Socks are my travel projects since I rarely need to thinking about what my hands are doing. Now you mean I have to focus? Until this is a chance to sit quietly and figure out the heel flap, the sock will remain stuck.