Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lazy Days

On the way home from Japan, we stopped in Maui for a family reunion. This vacation leg was the complete opposite of the first in every way. Slow, laid back island pace, beaches, tropical music, etc. It was jarring to adjust to this after living at a frenetic but exciting pace in Japan. Still, we managed :)

Up to this point on vacation, I hadn't felt an urge to knit. I admit I still don't, but that's due to my annual summer slump rather than lack of interest. In Maui, since I had a lot more free time on my hands, I finally picked up the needles again and worked on a sock. It's the Earl Grey sock pattern by the Yarn Harlot in Cascade Heritage Paints sock yarn.

On the beach with the sock.
From Maui June 2009

Thanks to Ravelry, I located two yarn shops in Lahaina. At The Needlework Shop, the yarn selection was small, but I bought a skein of sock yarn dyed by a local artist, the Maui Dyer.
From Maui June 2009

Standing with my new yarn, Pineapple Upsidedown Cake.
From Maui June 2009

Next, I found the Yarn and Needlecrafts shop, but it was closed that day. Peeking through the window, I saw a small yarn selection, but I never made it back to explore during business hours.
From Maui June 2009

Back to real life. I will update some projects I completed like two months ago. I finally got around to taking some pictures of the FOs.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


On Sunday, we finally came home after a long vacation. First, we visited Tokyo and had an amazing time. There was so much to do there that we couldn't possibly fit it all in our schedule. Each night, our aching feet and legs could attest to the amount of walking we did all day. Even though I brought my knitting, I didn't have the energy nor feel the urge to knit at all while we were there. Of course, I managed to check out two craft stores and was on the lookout for the craft section at the department stores.

First off, Yuzawaya in Kichijo-ji. Before I went, I had a vague idea it was the Michaels of Japan but really was clueless. It was huge!!! Like the mothership of craft stores. 7 floors or something like that. Big floors too, not like the tiny, narrow buildings I was used to seeing in Tokyo. It isn't Michaels at all, as Yuzawaya seemed to have a good selection and variety of everything. Not just a little bit of everything. If only I could sew, I would've gone crazy on the fabric floors. I took a few pictures of the yarn aisles but it really doesn't do it justice. The knit and crochet section only took up maybe a third of a floor, but they had a bigger yarn stock than most of the LYSs near me at home.

From Japan Trip- Tokyo

There were aisles and aisles of yarn. Mostly, Japanese or Asian brands such as Puppy, but some brands I knew. There was the Noro aisle (missed taking the picture). I was tempted to buy up a bunch of Noro sock yarn because it was on sale for $12.50!!!! I must have been crazy tired to have passed that up because I did.

From Japan Trip- Tokyo

Be sure to look up at the top of the shelves.
From Japan Trip- Tokyo

Lots of samples everywhere!
From Japan Trip- Tokyo

So inspiring. I think the yarn companies must provide the sample garments, since I saw some similar ones at a different store. But I don't know for sure. It's a fantastic way to showcase and sell the yarn and pattern book. Samples at our LYSs are not provided by the yarn companies, I'm pretty sure.

Later that day, in Shinjuku, we came across Okadaya. Although the yarn selection was nice, it was a much smaller store than Yuzawaya. It was a very narrow building with several floors and only one small elevator. We took the stairs and stopped at every floor until I hit yarn. I should've learned the Japanese character for yarn or knitting, so I could read the store directory. Still it was fun exploring.

Days later, off in Kyoto, I walked by this:
From Japan Trip- Kyoto

Silk yarn and a spinning wheel. It was closed at the time so I'm not sure if this was a textiles shop or a tailor's, but it seemed to come out of nowhere. Maybe this was Avril but I didn't know it? By that time, I had stopped looking for craft stores and had forgotten about the famous Avril store. There was so much more to see and do, but it's funny how I can't get away from my craft!

Eventually, at the end of my Kyoto stay, I bought a pattern book at the Daimaru department store on Shijo Dori. The 7th floor has a small yarn department. It's amazing how universal knitting can be. I felt so at home in these departments it didn't matter that I couldn't really speak to the store clerks. I managed :)


A tea cozy for a friend. Stitch pattern from Barbara Walker's 1st Treasury. Fun to knit and finished it within a short time.

From made by stacey

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It's a Pumpkin!

090407 shalom cardigan

Well, I hope I don't look like a pumpkin in this! It's the Shalom Cardigan by Meghan McFarlane. As of this moment, there are 1040 other Shaloms out there on Ravelry. Very popular! It's an easy, top-down cardigan with a twisted rib yoke. Simple yet appealing. I knit this with 4.5 skeins of Cascade 109 LE Bulky on size 6.5mm (10.5 US) needles. It's a rust orangy pumpkiny color. I really do like this cardigan, even with the fly-away front. There's enough coverage in front that it doesn't showcase my chest and stomach in an awful way. I'm glad the cardigan turned out bigger post-blocking than pre-blocking. It's a bit too big but still wearable.

Where did I get this yarn? From the WEBS booth at Stitches West! I bought enough yarn to make four sweaters. Stitches West was definitely calmer than previous years but still fun. Probably more enjoyable without the pushy crowds. Weeks ago, I meant to post about my haul but I've been MIA on the blog. So, besides Cascade 109, I bought Gedifra Shetland Deluxe at the WEBS booth. Both yarns were close-outs and heavily discounted. A real plus, when buying sweater quantities... I also bought some red-purple-orange (sounds horrible but looks great!) Mas Acero from Brooks Farm. And to top off my haul, I chose a light grey bulky weight 50/50 Jacob Alpaca yarn from Toots LeBlanc. Good loot! And I've already made something with one of my purchases. Woo hoo!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cable-y Goodness

081230 cable beret

This is old news but better late than never. Introducing my new cabled beret! Actually, I finished it at the end of December and have been wearing it ever since. For a long time, I've wanted to knit a slouchy beret and kept looking for the right pattern. On Ravelry, I came across the Cabled Goodness pattern, but I have to say my hat was "inspired by" the written pattern and not an exact copy of what the designer intended. I tried to follow her instructions, but things just didn't work out for me. So, when in doubt, wing it!

First off, I altered the brim circumference to 20 inches for the hat because I didn't think a 17 inch brim would go around my head. I was very wrong about that. As I neared completion, I tried the hat on and it swallowed my head. Way too big. With berets, since there's hardly a crown because you increase right away to make the disk shape, you need the brim to be snug just to stay on. Anyway, after I finished the top of the hat, I cut at stitch an inch or so in to the brim and unravelled all the way to the cast-on. Once I rescued all the stitches back onto the needles, I immediately decreased down to 17 inches, knit the ribbed brim, and bound off. That marked the end. This should have been an easy, straight forward hat to make, but it took longer than expected. It took three tries to figure out the decreases at the top. I must have been way off from the pattern because after initially following the written instructions, it didn't look right at all. Frogged it twice before the third time (the charm?) I made something work out, even though it doesn't have the cool cables snaking all the way to the top. Oh well. If the written pattern works out for you, that's great. I obviously had a hard time for some reason :)

Anyway, I love it now. This is fantastic yarn from Artfibers in San Francisco. Super squishy and luxurious. I made my pilgrimmage to Artfibers back in December before they closed their storefront. Even though I'm from this area, I had never been there before. I had known about it for a long time but took it for granted that it would always be there. At least I had a chance to do their "yarn tasting" and knit with a couple of their yarns before leaving.

081230 cable beret2

Yarn: Ming (50% wool, 50% silk), Artfibers
Needles: size 7 (4.5mm)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tweedy Aran Cardi

I love this cardigan! It fits well, especially around the shoulders. I've worked on other set-in sleeve patterns, but those still looked drop-shouldered. All thanks go to Norah Gaughan for a well designed pattern.

090201_03 tweedyarancardi

Pattern: Tweedy Aran Cardigan by Norah Gaughan
Size: ~35 inches around chest
Yarn: Tahki Donegal Tweed, olive green, less than 6 hanks
Needles: size 6 and 8
Knitting time: 2 months start to finish

090201_01 tweedyarancardi

My gauge was a little bit bigger (closer to 4 stitches/inch) than the written gauge. Sticking with my own gauge, I followed the pattern for the smallest size and came out with finished chest size of about 35 inches. This is probably the warmest sweater I have. Now with the weather cooling down again, I can wear it often this season. Yay!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! Hope you all had a great time during the holidays! Time has flown by. Although I haven't blogged about anything in over a month, I've been busy with all the holiday hustle and bustle. Seems all I did over the past few weeks was eat, eat, eat. Not that I'm complaining.

Onto the knitting. I managed to cram in a lot of knitting, whenever I could. It's my way of keeping calm and centered.

Old business first. This is my first felted project ever. I made Meema's Felted Tote Bag from the first Stitch N Bitch book. Knit on 15s with 3 skeins of Knitpicks' Wool of the Andes Bulky in Grape.

081123 felted tote bag
Finished knitting within days back in October, but the felting process took me a lot longer. Since I only have coin-op washing machines in my building and can't control the speed, I hand felted the bag. Taking advice from my friend, Annika, the felting queen, I had super hot water ready, dish soap, and rubber gloves. Now, being the smartypants that I am, I decided to use my silcone oven mitts (way too big for my hands, by the way), so I wouldn't feel the boiling water as I pummeled the poor wool into felt fabric. Well, I managed to rub the skin off my knuckles because of too much movement inside the silicone mitts. EEEWWW. So, that set me back at least a week before the stinging subsided. Anyway, after the bag dried, I wanted to lose more of the stitch definition, plus shrink it more. A month and a half later (I was lazy), I re-felted the bag in hot (not boiling water) and didn't need gloves after the water cooled a bit.

081221 refelted tote bag
Pre-felting bag dimensions: length x width x height, 11 inches x 6.5 inches x 16.5 inches
Final dimensions: 10 inches x 5 inches x 10 inches
Decreased ~40% vertically and ~15% horizontally

Next, I made a cowl from yarn I bought at Stitches West 2008.
081207 argosy cowl2
It's super luxurious cashmere silk from Argosy. Haiku 4ply in Blackberry. I took the shell lace stitch pattern from Barbara Walker's First Treasury of Stitch Patterns, calculated for a 20 inch circumference, and knit til I used up all of the yarn, ~200 yards. Feels great against my neck.
081207 argosy cowl

There's more but that's all for now. Happy 2009!