Friday, December 30, 2011

A Year of Knitting

From top left corner:

First row:
1. Fair Isle hats, finished in January
2. Rascal's cable sweater, finished February 4
3. Parker Cardigan, finished May 28

Second row:
1. Oslo Walk Shawl, finished June 25
2. Light and Lacy crochet vest, finished July 15
3. Peppermint Ginger sweater, finished August 16

Third row:
1. Knotty Vest, finished September 3
2. Safe Return mittens, finished September 27
3. Tappan Zee cardigan, finished October 15

Bottom: St. Brigid, finished December 18

This is one of my most productive years. I'm very happy to revisit all the project notes and everyone's comments on Fiber Arts Friday posts. I really enjoyed being part of this excellent group, and the regular postings helped me organized and stay on track. Here is best wishes for a wonderful knitterly 2012!

Happy Friday and Happy New Year! Join the party on Andrea's blogTami's blog, and leave me a comment! 

Friday, December 23, 2011

St. Brigid Finale

Project: St. Brigid 
Pattern: St. Brigid by Alice Starmore, from Aran Knitting
Yarn: Scottish wool, heavy worsted to Aran weight
Yardage:  1000g, about 2000 yards
Needles: Size 6
Cast on: September 27, 2011

Cast off: December 18, 2011
Finished size: Chest 48 inches, body length 26 inches, wingspan 59 inches
Cost: No retail cost. Traded from Scotland for a box of cashmere from China (gift from my aunt). A lot of airline mileage but no money exchanged.
Previous entries: Beginning (yarn story), Front and Back, Sleeves, Edging, Finishing
1. To accommodate the heavy yarn, I followed the pattern for the smaller size, took out one braid panel (chart B) from each side of front and back (total four panels taken out) to make body narrower. 
2. Instead of fringe, I used the braid pattern (chart B) as edging on the bottom on the body.
3. I used the same braid pattern for neck band, and a simple 3 x 3 cable for the cuffs.

This is one of the more complex cable sweaters I've knitted. The construction and cables are straight forward and given the oversized look on the model I was ready for modifications. I was determined to use the Scottish wool for this pattern, even tho it's heavier than called for, and that brought on more adjustments. From this and couple of sweaters this year -- Peppermint Ginger, Light and Lacy -- I've learned how important finishing is in fitting. Knitting (and crochet) creates fabric, and finishing is the step to make the fabric into a garment fit a grow human's body. If you are a selfish knitter like me and mostly make things for yourself, you want them to fit! The tinkering doesn't scare me, I'm just glad it all worked out fine and  I'm happy with the result.

Happy Friday and Merry Christmas! Join the party on Andrea's blogTami's blog, and leave me a comment!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Almost There; Rascalversary

St. Brigid is "this close" to being done. I have a bit of yarn left and I'm putting some cable edging on the sleeves. This week I ripped the side seams apart, blocked the front and back, sewed the pieces back together with an attempt to lengthen the sweater a bit, then added cable edging on the bottom (you can't see it in the picture but it's there), and redid the neck band to tighten up. Next week: Finale!

Thursday was Rascal's home coming day! Exactly a year ago we took the skinny little puppy home from his rescue foster home. You can read Rascal's full story here. At the time we were told he was closer to eight months old, but he's done so much growing (in weight and relative maturity) in the past year, we think he was probably closer to six months, which makes him right about a year and half now. No matter, we are thrilled to have our perfect little Rascal, who does everything to live up to his name.

Earlier this year I shared some of my charity stash with a local middle school's new knitting club. This week I received this cute card the students drew and signed. Isn't it sweet?

Happy Fiber Arts Friday! Join the party on Andrea's blog and leave me a comment!

Friday, December 09, 2011

St. Brigid, Knitting with Friends

St. Brigid continues to grow at a good clip. Front, back, both sleeves are seamed, collar added. As I was seaming I remembered I was in such a hurry to see how the sweater looked, I forgot to block the pieces. Now the side seams look a little strange, I may have to take them apart and redo the seams. Even after taking out two panels on each piece, the sweater still looks very square. I'm adding a round a braid on the bottom, hoping to make it more vertical, and hopefully the blocking and seaming would help too.

On Tuesday I invited some friends over to knit. These ladies from South Bay Knitters are incredibly talented, in knitting and other fiber arts. Over the years their creativity, their thorough knowledge of fibers, and their tireless intellectual pursuits have pushed me to advance myself in many ways.

Jocelyn of the sock machine's fame is working on a cable and lace scarf
Sylvia working on a baby hat for charity
Carol's Christmas stocking for her grandson
Carol, who blogs at And All That Yarn, is thinking about joining Fiber Arts Friday. Her blog is full of beautiful pictures of her knitting, go take a look and give her a big welcome!

Friday, December 02, 2011

St. Brigid Progress

St. Brigid is coming along nicely. For such a large project, I'm making better progress than I anticipated. Front and back are both done, one sleeve is done, the other is close to shoulder decrease. The front and back look too square for my taste even tho I took out a panel from each side (total four panels taken out). If there is enough yarn left I will see about adding couple rounds of braids on the bottom to make the body longer.

Some California fall colors:
Orchid blooming second time since the summer.

My home grown persimmon.
Happy Fiber Arts Friday! Join the party on Andrea's blog and leave me a comment!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Charity Knitting

Hope all of my friends in the US had a great Thanksgiving holiday! On Wednesday Henry had the day off so we went to visit my mom and pick up some of her finished knitting. My mom is a very proficient knitter, and nowadays mostly knits for charity. If you click on the CIC label on the right hand side column there are some pictures of her knitting from couple of years ago.

It's been rainy so I have to take pictures indoor, the flash really hurts colors.

child's vest

berets and Rascal

knit/crochet baby blanket #1

more berets (wish I got these before Halloween)

baby vest

knit/crochet baby blanket #2

knit/crochet baby blanket #3

little girl hat and scarf set

child's vest
Happy Black Friday! When you are not busy shopping, join the cyber party on Andrea's blogTami's blog, and leave me a comment!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Knitting Room

I worked at The Knitting Room in San Jose when I stayed home with Henry way back. The owners Mary Ann and Ed both had retired from high tech, so they were my mentors and role models in knitting, fiber arts, and life. This week is their 20 years anniversary as owners of the shop and they put up a big sale, everything in the shop was 20% off. I was very happy to have a chance to visit and catch up with Mary Ann.

Cascade 220

Manos de Uruguay lace

Yarn bowls

Finally have a picture with Mary Ann!

I had a hard time choosing what to buy as always. I had never seen this Plymouth Mushishi before, it's 95% wool, 5% silk, 491 yards, enough to make a little wrap. The yarn feels warm and lofty, and the silk gives it a nice texture.

Loot: Plymouth Yarn Mushishi
Happy Fiber Arts Friday! Join the party on Andrea's blog and leave me a comment!

Friday, November 11, 2011

St Brigid Progress, Ireland

I'm making good progress on St. Brigid. The back (draped on the back of the chair) is done and front is more than half way done. The back has six pattern repeats, and I just finished the fourth one on the front, so time to think about neckline pretty soon.

Completely unrelated. A few weeks ago I received a private message on Ravelry from a knitter in Ireland. She saw 20 skeins of WEBS store brand, Valley Yarns Stockbridge, in my stash and was wondering if I could sell it to her. WEBS doesn't ship internationally. I knitted Spencer Day in this yarn and rather liked it, but to help a fellow knitter I was ready to sacrifice. I figured I could always replenish at next Stitches, as if I wouldn't do that already. I emailed her back, told her I'd sell her at retail plus shipping. She replied back quickly and said if shipping rate was reasonable we had a deal. (first alarm). So I went on to check the shipping rates. The big carriers, UPS, Fedex, DHL, all wanted $140+ for 5lbs, $80 worth of yarn. USPS was the most reasonable, at $45. That's insane. Someone on Ravelry mentioned if we were lucky we might be able to find a traveler to carry the yarn in luggage. Low and behold, I actually found another knitter on Ravelry who was going to Ireland from Maryland in couple of weeks. It would cost me about $10 to send the yarn to her, and she even offered to deliver the yarn to the buyer if she was in Dublin. I was so happy! During the entire time I kept in touch with the buyer, telling her what I was trying every day. The day after I found the hand carrier, I got an email from the buyer, she was laid off from her journalist job and had to cut back her yarn spending. She apologized over and over for putting me through the trouble. I was very surprised we could make this deal work at all, and even more surprised how it didn't work in the end. But I was happy to keep the yarn!

Happy Fiber Arts Friday! Join the party on Andrea's blog and leave me a comment!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Sock Knitting Phantom

My friend Jocelyn is an engineer. I've known Jocelyn since I joined the South Bay Knitters in 1998. We both work in high tech and our kids are close in age, so we have a lot to share. In the past couple of years, Jocelyn got addicted to sock knitting machines, so she bought a few of them (something to the number of 10). Jocelyn is a huge fan of The Phantom of the Opera, so she named the machines as her cast of characters. Here they are in her own words:

"There's Christine the 2007 NZAK, Buquet a Verdun 47, there are the two Legare 400s Firmin and Andre, the large Legare Piangi, the Gearhart Madame Giry, the Canadian AK Meg, the Verdun Semi-Automatic Raoul, and of course the English AK the Phantom itself."

Did I mention she's an engineer? I'm not sure if I understand 50% of this. But if you counted, that's only nine. Her most recent acquisition, and I had the honor of seeing her working in action this week, is " NZAK Mark IV. It's the cadillac of all machines, with steel inserts, brass stoppers, she's a marvel, and my Carlotta."

Jocelyn's own blog entries about the machines are here, here, here and here. Stop by and tell her how awesome she is!

One of these black ones is Phantom, I think the one on the left.
The pink ones (they are more red in real life) are Christine
(the bigger one on the stand on the right) and Meg.

Carlotta and Jocelyn in action.

A full size sock in less than an hour!
Happy Fiber Arts Friday! Join the party on Andrea's blog and leave me a comment!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Knitting Group Show and Tell

I have been going to South Bay Knitters group meetings since I picked up the needles again in 1998. This group of ladies have inspired me to do many things that I never imagined I'd do, in a good way. I'm very lucky to have them in my fiber life. 

I converse with a lot of people in my day job, though email, LinkedIn updates, Skype, instant messages, Facebook, Twitter, not to mention lengthy phone calls and interviews. Some days I'm literarily talked out, so I have not been meeting with my friends as much as I'd like. Last night was our monthly meeting, it's so refreshing to talk to friends. You know, no one has to plead for a job, or give empty promises, or play some name dropping to show off the superiority. It's just a group of women, knitting, and chatting.

Candace's Stephen West Earth & Sky shawl

A new member knitted this sparkly little sweater.

Julie's baby sweater for her grand niece

Lisa's baby sweater for her niece, pattern is Little Hanten,
by Cheryl Oberle, from Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders.
It's a lot prettier in person!

Lisa's Fair Isle cardigan from Knit Picks Palette. It's stunning!
Happy Friday! Join the party on Andrea's blogTami's blog, and leave me a comment!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Tappan Zee Finale 大班老师

decrease on both sides
unmatched buttons

Project: Tappan Zee 大班老师
PatternTappan Zee cardigan by Amy King, Knitty Spring + Summer 2010
Yarn: Knit Picks Merino Style, DK weight, 100% wool
Yardage:  6 skeins, 738 yards in stash, used every inch of it!
Needles: Size 6
Cast on: September 3, 2011

Cast off: October 15, 2011
Cost: $18
NotesI made button holes all the way down so I can wear it as a regular cardigan. I added waist shaping on the sides, but ran out of yarn so not all the stitches were added back. The finished hip is smaller than finished chest size. The button holes came out really small, none of my good buttons would fit. So I raided my "spare" button stash, you know, all those little packs that come with shirts or pants or jackets, I got a big pile of them. The result is seven buttons mix and match, I think it's pretty cool. Adds character, right? 

Happy Friday! Join the party on Andrea's blogTami's blog, and leave me a comment!

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Project: St. Brigid

Project: St. Brigid 
Pattern: St. Brigid by Alice Starmore, from Aran Knitting
Yarn: Scottish wool
Yardage:  1000g, about 2000 yards
Needles: Size 6
Cast on: September 27, 2011

Notes: I have been a Starmore fan since whenever, and I have wanted to knit St. Brigid since whenever. I have knitted a few Aran sweaters over the years, but I always see her designs as the ultimate goal I should try to accomplish. And let me tell you, now that I have knitted a few repeats on this design, it's really not that difficult.

The yarn came to me from Harris, Western Isles, Scotland. A few years ago I was on Knitswap (a Yahoo group) a lot, scoping out good deals. A lady from Scotland asked if anyone would like to swap with her, something that she could not find in Scotland. I had a small stash of Chinese cashmere that my aunt sent me so I traded that for Scottish wool. Quite a trade, isn't it? Something soft and smooth for something strong and hardy. The yarn is so perfect for the Starmore design, so perfect for the twist and turns and knots and crosses, it's telling a story as it runs through my fingers. I love touching the cables as my work completes itself, feeling it's roughness, and hearing the tales from a far away place.

The stitch markers are little pugs that I got in my first and last swap in the pug group on Ravelry. Bucky was so deeply ingrained in my life for over 15 years, now I cherish every bit of pugness in my life.

Rascal says Hi!
Happy Fiber Arts Friday! Join the party on Andrea's blog and leave me a comment!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Gift Yarn; Purlescence

I received this super nice skein from Ally of AllyB...that's Me! this week. Ally is responsible for leading me to Fiber Arts Friday, after we met and got to know each other in the pug group on Ravelry. This is a skein of her hand spun, corriedale plied with kid mohair and silk. I can't say enough how much I love this yarn, it's lofty and smooth, with just the right amount of irregularity. It will become something very nice to wear I'm sure.

Last week I had some time to kill while running errands around town, so I treated myself with a visit with one of the yarn shops in the area, Purlescence Yarns in Sunnyvale. I haven't been to this shop for couple of years, and they have moved since my last visit. Now they have a much larger store front, which is very well lit, and there is enough room to lay out all the spinning wheels and looms.

Better view of the wheels on the shelf.

Today is my husband's birthday and our wedding anniversary. Never get tired of seeing our younger selves!

Happy Fiber Arts Friday! Join the party on Andrea's blog and leave me a comment!