« November 2005 | Main | January 2006 »

December 29, 2005

buttons, buttons, everywhere

thank you for all the encouragements for my fair isle project, i felt a bit of embarrassment while reading all of your comments as moments after my posting, i ripped out all of what you saw and had decided to use baby ull instead. sisu yarn is nice and soft but i found it to be somewhat splitty and thin for this project. also, when i tried the sock on, it felt tight. i am hoping that with baby ull, a squishier yarn, there will be more allowance for stretching.

sisu yarn will subsequently become another pair of socks for husband. who is the happy winner here?

i have been searching for buttons for a while. as you all know, alabama is not the craft capital of the world. so, when it comes time to look for buttons, i had two options: hancock fabrics or walmart. stunning, i know. so, i turned to online shopping, of course. little i know that button business is hard to seek out, but i have finally found something.

tagua nut (also known as corozzo) is now my new favorite thing for buttons! though i have yet to physically feel this material, i am pretty sure it will be as luscious as its nickname, vegetable ivory. tagua nut is found in the tropical rain forests in ecuador, now how exotic can this be? i am just a total sucker for anything exotic.

i have ordered some rusty brown tagua buttons for my alpakka sweater. i think it will complement the front quite nicely, no?

with yarns from norway, buttons from ecuador. i think i am all exotic out now.

soon, buttons from ecuador will be part of my sweater!

December 27, 2005

fair isle stockings

right before the holidays i found myself almost obsessed over this pair of stockings, after seeing eunny's and jessica's versions. i am now in the process of making one for myself - norwegian stockings from folk socks by nancy bush.

this is my first serious fair isle project and i enjoy it. eunny and jessica both had some extensive pattern notes for this project so i have been learning a lot from their experiences. i am knitting with US2 needles, sisu yarns from norway and am trying fair isle with magic loop. so far, it has been working well for me. the colors i am using are charcoal, lavender and light grey. i envision myself wearing it with black loafer, wool black or charcoal pleated skirt and a fitted lavender (or dusky purple) skirt. preppy but modern. the only problem is that i can not find any skirts. all the major clothing chains are currently showcasing bohemic/vintage fashion, no decent skirts can be found. sigh!!

as this item is seasonal, i have a sense of urgency to finish it before the winter is over. hopefully by then i will find my skirt.

if you are familiar with this pattern, you should notice that i have knitted some extra amount of ribbing. this is for the potential double facing elastic band insertion. i am not sure how this will turn out though i am sure that some form of elastic will be installed. double facing, as described in the "big book of knitting" is a good way of inserting elastic band. however, it adds bulk to the ribbing and i may end up ditching this option and just thread through some thin elastic cords on the wrong side.

i am also not sure if my tension is working. magic loop method presented some problems as the folding edge creates a much shorter distance for the yarn flows. i had to purposely pull the flows loose to create an overall even tension for the sock.

anyway, it is going to be a pretty pair of stockings! i can't wait!!

December 23, 2005

holiday socks

kersti socks for me! me, me, me!!

knit project: kersti socks
difficulty (1-5): 1.2
size: women's small (40 stitches, long tail cast on)
yarn: koigu's kersti in K816 (less than 2 skeins)
knitting specs: US 7 (cast on, ribbing) & US 6 dpn.

my holidays have begun! no more work so i can eat, knit and do all the fun things for the next few days. i have managed to complete a pair of socks out of koigu kersti yarns so my feet will be warm and pretty for the holidays! hurray!

happy holidays, everyone!

December 19, 2005

more on japanese knitting books

book cover and its content
we all know that there are many beautiful knitting books in japan but they are not very searchable. well, until now. i have discovered a taiwanese online bookstore, where they show an inside preview of many japanese knitting books; some with enlarged pictures. with this link, you can go check it out yourselves! behind those beautiful covers, you will find a pair of cozy socks (i really really need one!), the most beautiful fair isle mittens, and many more.

if mandarin is not your language, you can still navigate. just click on the pictures, and scroll to the bottom to nagivate between pages (where you shall see numerical numbers).

no need to judge a book by its cover anymore!

December 15, 2005

my blog needs a holiday too

i am very pleased with my elfine sock's progress. leaves of maple colors just kept forming that i can not stop! initially i was afraid the sock may be too big. well, now that i have knitted past the ankle, i can say that the fit is wonderful. unfortunately i do not have photos to show just yet.

monkeysuit's instant oatmeal in foxbgloves (cashsoft aran)
but how about some pictures of monkeysuits? my brother and his wife teresa will be having a baby girl in a couple months, and i so welcome the opportunity to knit for her. i wanted to involve teresa's opinions so we communicated a few times. i eventually picked monkeysuit's instant oatmeal pattern. how adorable will this new baby girl look in this cute outfit, eh? i will be using rowan's cashsoft aran in foxglove as this color resembles the baby's birthstone, amethyst.

so, i plan to start this project soon, perhaps after my christmas feast.

while everyone is having the greatest decoration and holiday plans for next week, we are not really riding this wave just yet. my husband and i have yet to establish the exchange of secret christmas present thing because why? we have no secrets. we shop for what we like together and that is both satisfying and practical. and i think that will also be the case for 2005.

smooth shoulder shaping using the short row technique
i finished the back piece for cobalt cardi and do i love it! ha, veronik avery's short row tutorial in this IK issue totally saved my day. this was the first time that i used short row shaping correctly and beautifully. not only that, i kept all the stitches alive (alive!!) for future three needle bind off and collar attachment.

highgate was also progressing until i realized that my stitches were off while i was doing the sleeve shaping. why, why, why? i was so frustrated that i had to throw this project back in the basket. maybe those stitches will fix themselves.

nothing else is going on for my alpakka sweater, though i will try to finish it before the spring.

and my blog needs a holiday break. then again, maybe not! i may not be able to resist to urge to show my complete elfine socks, the beginning of butterfly (new and improved) among other random things.

December 12, 2005

excessive deliberation

so i have knitted more than a dozen socks for others, only now i have an open spot to knit one for myself, and have been thinking about what my first pair would be like for a while now. unfortunately it has not happened as my indecisive nature was particularly prominent for this project. i wanted the first pair to be somewhat special but had trapped in this thought too much that nothing seemed special. weird.

elfine's leaves

finally, i picked mac's handspun yarn to knit anna's elfine socks. it is a project completely enabled by knitbloggers, which qualifies as a special pair of socks.

conwy beginning. beautiful yarn with not so suitable pattern

actually, i started off wanting to knit conwy, but somehow the twining cabled pattern just did not show through this particular yarn. moreover, this coral color blue face leicester yarn reminds me of the foliage i never saw this year, elfine's leaf motifs seems to be a better choice than conwy. so far, i like how it looks. the handspun yarn is thick and thin, it is also twisted with a lighter shade of peach. the effect of such nature is really surprising as waves of colors come into life with progress.

searching for yarns and patterns can be blinding and it is hard to look beyond your realm of familiarity. and knitting being a creative hobby, i think it is important to break through this obstacle. how? have others shop for you. give them a criteria of what you are looking for, then see how others interpret such concept. look at other people's work for ideas (like, knitting blogs!), do not let the models on the magazines be your only guidelines to judge a project.

luckily, i have a secret pal who inspires me with gifts of her choices and tastes. thank you, laurie, for being a wonderful better pal.

variegated sock yarn among other knitterly delights

December 07, 2005

reconstructing willow - review of past knitting

top left to bottom right: still new and much loved; photographed recently, all worn out; clumpy big wool tufts and the fuzzy halo, bulky yarn's best friends!
purly started reviewing her knits from the past and i like this idea very much. so today, i am going to share my feelings of willow, the sweater that i knitted at the beginning of this year.

in case you are wondering, knitting life is not always peaches and creams at whispering pine. i have my own stumbles. hate to rant on such a merry moment of the year, but i must do so now. why? the weather is getting colder, many of you are probably feeling the urge to knit a bulky, cozy cardigan so you can look even more stylish apres-ski or whatever you choose to do stylishly. as such, i feel at least you need to hear from me first before you do.

so willow, i loved it so much when i was planning on making it, i got the yarn (100% full retailed price, mistake #1) and i started working on it almost immediately. the process was also much loved, those cream color, unspun wool intertwined with variegated ribbons could not be any more lovelier to a fiber ho' like myself. knitting on US15 needles meant instant FO gratification. i finished this knit in less than three weekends. i wore it almost immediately out to the public. and then, my love for it faded as fast as this past short winter that grazed alabama.

the unspun wool bloomed up very quickly upon wearing, thus the newness of the wool really disappeared before you had a chance to appreciate it. little fuzzy halo appeared every where. i suspect the amount the wool blooms is proportional to your body temperature. so, the longer you wear it, the fluffier this cardigan gets. very unpleasant indeed.

also, the big wool tuft only looked good until i washed it. all those snow flake like tufty stuff balls up and it really lost most of its original attraction. i think part of it was my fault, i washed it with wool-lite and rinsed it excessively. blamed it to my ignorance.

honestly, the whole fuzziness of the wool did not bother me as much as the shortness of the sleeves and the tightness around my arms. i knew the cardi was very form fitting and i sort of expected the sweater to relax and stretch, but, as you can see, it did not happen in my case. it just fuzzed.

the collar. it is really beautiful when you look at it, but in reality, it is way big. way impractically big. it does not hug so it has very little contribution to the warmth of your neck, but it does helluva job of adding on extra weight to the top of the shoulder. wearing this cardigan requires a lot of fudging and shuffling in order for it to look right. bleh. not my cup of tea.

but what to do then? i spent way too much money on this yarn, i can not just carelessly throw it away and i still love the color and the yarn. i can even learn to like the fluffiness. so, the plan is that i'm going to rip it apart and reconstruct it (thank goodness i always buy an extra skein of yarn!). i'll make it roomier, collar a bit smaller, and i will keep those lovely, lovely buttons as they are the only thing i love about this cardigan right now.

think twice, my dear readers, before you put hundreds of dollars on a bulky knit sweater. they look lovely on rowan models and all, but in real life, it's a different story. i'm sure mine may be a bit on the extreme end, and i do intend to make more bulky weight sweaters in the future. but before i do it again, i will definitely study the yarn a lot more and will try not to knit impulsively.

please feel free to share your thoughts on ribbon twist yarn, willow, or any other bulky knits. we can all use a little exchange of hate, or ideas.

December 04, 2005

my current knits

three sweaters, each with their own styles and characters, are my current focus in knitting. aran sweater with the most intriguing tweed yarn, heathery pink cable highgate and an explosion of colors for the alpakka sweater.

cobalt blue cardi (IK winter 01/02)
so far, cobalt blue cardi is the most interesting one of the three. i have spent most of my last week conquering cables and twisted stitches of this cardi and am almost done with the back piece. rowanspun is a really great yarn. sturdy but soft to your hands. i'm so tempted to buy more.

i was not too thrilled with how it looks at first, stitches tend to get uneven when you twist them too much, back and forth, front and back. twisted stitches also made fixing tensions impossible. i am not sure what i'd do about them just yet, maybe some serious blocking after it's all done.

i have also knitted all the edge stitches in garter stitch. not sure how that would faciliate seaming.

but they are pretty, no? diamonds and these wiggly looking fancy ribs all stand out from the knits. totally screams "i am a traiditional shetland aran knit!". fancy, i tell you.

highgate in china pink, she is nothing but a preppy english lady!

and who doesn't love highgate? the soft heathery pink and the understated cables complement the wide collar and all over ribbings all too well.

i started off by knitting the sleeves, the most uncomplicated part of the whole sweater. this mindless ribbing is such a welcoming change from the cobalt cardi. i have not gone very far with this project just yet. still savoring the moment of working with this luxurious yarn.

the front of my alpakka sweater

yes... you should have guessed by now. the front of my alpakka sweater will have nothing but an explosion of colors. i have a plan and i think it'll work. you are looking at the beginning of it, i have a great tutor for this project, the name is oilily.

December 02, 2005

greedy but necessary

so you are standing right in the middle of the most fabulous yarn shop in the world with all those luxurious yarns and you were told to only pick out one sweater worth of yarns and that's it. now how long do you think that selection process is going to take? long. very, very long. why? because we are all greedy knitters.

i feel that was the situation i have put amilia in. she is a knitter, believe it or not, but she does not knit. this singaporean girl claims that the tropical weather has really limited her knitting. what? i think she is just being funny. but anyway, i am going to make iris for her. but i know she wants more than just the plain looking iris, she wants something else. something lacey and unique. and you know what, i will make not one, but two shrugs/boleros for her. let the pattern search begins!

japanese knitting books, beautiful and tempting!

amilia is so sweet, she has offered to indulge me in this greedy collection of japanese knitting books (after seeing li's growing colletion, i feel i need some, too!). she will shipped them to me on a batch basis and in return, i will make some little shrugs for her, send her some beading magazines (she makes gorgeous jewelry) and classic american shirts from A&F.

wow, head is spinning. knitting is, all of a sudden, a global activity.

yes, i am still knitting. thank you for liking my socks and scarves. husband is thrilled. he wants more socks (of course!) but november has ended so i am moving on from just knitting accessories. over the weekend, i will show you my progress of cobalt blue cardi and highgate (one is more significant than other). i will also pick up the needles again for the long forgotten alpakka sweater. also, a new baby project for my brother and his wife who are expecting a girl.