Friday, January 25, 2008

You Make My Day

Yesterday, I was tagged by Suna with a You Make Day Award. I've never been tagged before so I'm doubly honored that she picked my blog.

I started my blog shortly after I started knitting. I wanted to document my new hobby. At one point I was blogging here in order to get links to my knitting podcast, Knitting News Cast. I had hoped to make a living doing the podcast and writing my blog. Lots of other people in the knitting community have gotten a day job posting to their blog like the Yarn Harlot and Mason Dixon (who also have books). And others have gotten writing and television gigs from having a blog, like Vickie Howell and Lisa Shobhana Mason. So why not me?!? That never worked out, of course. It takes awhile to earn money from a blog on the Internet and get book deals and really, the pressure I put on myself to podcast and blog took the life out of it and knitting.

So now I blog because I like to blog. I do have advertising on this blog and my Knitting News Cast website. I use Google Ads and Amazon. I make just enough to pay my hosting bill for the podcast. For me, now that's enough.

So what does that have to do with the "You Make My Day" Award. Well, there are lots of people blogging out there who just blog. No motives, no thinking of key words for the search engines (I admit I still do that), no blogging every day just to be out there. And I like reading their blogs. They aren't forced and they make me feel apart of a wider knitting and world community.

Here are my current favorites:

Amy's House Knitting - Okay, I admit, I look forward to seeing this blog show up in my Google Reader the most. Amy, her Chinese name is 王繼惠, is a woman in Taiwan going through the Japanese Knitting program, NAC. I found her blog when I was doing research for my Japanese Knitting Pattern blog. She has pictures on her blog of the projects she and her classmates are working on. They are incredible! At first I thought it was Amy who was doing all this knitting but she posted so often with pictures, I had to leave a comment on her blog and ask her because the Google translator from Chinese to English just didn't give me enough information. They aren't all her projects, only some of them. The other reason I like to look at those pictures is because they are taken in her classroom. There are stacks and stacks of neatly displayed yarn in drawers along the wall. I'd love to spend my days in a school like that! 王繼惠 also posts pictures of knitting and crochet designs she likes and I enjoy seeing those too.

Baby Davies - apparently I'm not the only person that like reading Sabbath's blog. Last week when I looked at my stats for this site, I had about 5 or so clicks from her site out of 50 clicks. In the Internet click through rate world, that is significant! The reason I like Sabbath's blog is that it is so her. She posts about her daughter, knitting, and recipes she has made. It is a nice look into raising a family that I've never had (and probably never will have). And sometimes she just posts about the things she is trying to figure out about herself like belief systems and what to do with her life. I struggle with those too!

Back Yard Inspirations - I just starting reading Eliza's (otherwise, known as Miss Violet) blog on a regular basis. She is doing the 101 Things in 1001 Days project which I'm also doing. This month she has been posting the Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) she has been working on and also writing about the struggles of trying to do art everyday. I used to really be into paper art and altered art but once I found knitting, I just got away from it. I even have a blog that I used to keep about it, so to read about someone else who is an artist and a knitter is a real treat.

I hope you find these blog just as wonderful as I do!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Portland Yarn Crawl Recap

Yesterday, I spent an awesome knitting and yarn filled day on the Amtrack train from Seattle to Portland and then in the Pearl District of Portland.

Charisa was the wonderful organizer for the trip. I am very impressed about the amount time, energy, and effort that she put into the trip. She is amazing!

She went from organizing a small trip for about 6 people in her local knitting group in Monroe to a trip for over 35 knitters from all over the Seattle area. We even had a couple of people get on in Tukwila and Tacoma. We filled up an entire train car!

On the way down, we knitted and chatted and met the other people in the group. Charisa put together a great brochure with the agenda, map of the Pearl District with yarn stores, a book store, and Whole Foods on it. It also had all our cell phone numbers in case we needed to call someone in the group if we got separated.

One of the best parts of the brochure was the "Meet the PDX Yarn Crawlers" bingo along with the name tags she made for us.

The name tags had information about us from a questionnaire Charisa sent out (I was a slacker and didn't fill mine out, so Charisa had to go find the info on my Ravelry profile). The bingo cards had squares with one of the things on our name tags. So we had to go around and find the people who were on our squares. It was a lot of fun!

I worked on a Headband by Drops Designs on the way there and back. I didn't finish it like I thought because I kept having to unravel mistakes on the way down. I almost finished on the way back, but I was so popped and my contacts were dried out, that I had to stop.

Iliauxh was my unofficial tour guide for the trip. She took charge and led a group of us knitters to our first yarn store. I tagged along with her the rest of the time too. I took my GPS with me because I loaded all the Portland Yarn stores in it.

View Larger Map

But it was so overcast and we went indoors so often, I never got or kept good satellite reception. No problem, Ilaiuxh rocks with a map and a mission, especially a yarn store mission!

The first store we stopped at was Dublin Bay Knitting Company. This store is so nice and roomy with lots of Handmaiden and Fleece Artist yarn. There is even a sitting area with comfy couches to sit and knit in. The owner's mother was there to help out and even made cookies and scones for us along with spiced tea! We got a 20% discount because we were on the yarn tour too!

We then went to Knit Knot Studio, who also gave us a 20% discount. This store is very small but is filled with tons of unique and unusual yarns.

I've always wanted to try out Recycled Silk yarn but I've never seen it for less then $35. Well, I got this lovely skein for $12.

It is 100% Recycled silk made in Nepal by the Himalaya Yarn Inc. Company. I got color SD-00, which is very lovely. I'm thinking of making a small purse/bag out of it.

I've also wanted to buy some hand-spun yarn but once again, the price tag has kept me from being able to really afford it. However, Knit Knot had some really nice hand-spun too. Here is the skein I got:

It is 60% silk and 40% merino. It was spun and hand dyed by Jain Konrad of The Un-Ewes-Ual in Beaverton, OR. It is super lovely and I can't wait to figure out what I'm going to do with it. It has to be something really special!

The last skeins of yarn that I bought are by Harrisville Designs. It is Heathered Bulky in Peacock. I bought 2 skeins. I think I'm going to do a felted project with this yarn.

The final store on our yarn crawl destination was Knit Purl. We were all impressed with the wall of Koigu sock yarn they had:

I bought some Eucalan to wash my hand knits with. It doesn't require rinsing which is a big plus!

After the yarns stores and stopping at Whole Foods, we went to Powell's Books. This is an incredible city block sized store with 4 floors! They sell new and used books. Of course, the aisle with the knitting books was packed. So I didn't stay in there as long as I would have liked but I did end up with 2 used books that I'm happy with.

The first one is 2000 patterns of Design and Figure Knitting. It is published by Miyashita Shoji Co., Ltd in Tokyo Japan but is in English. It looks like it was published in the 60s. It is geared to Machine Knitting but because the Japanese use standard knitting chart symbols I can use if for hand knitting without much change.

Here are some of the pages from the book.

See why I think this book was published in the 60s or 70s?!? And here is a chart of the knitting symbols:

I'll be doing a review of the book on my Japanese Knitting Pattern blog soon along with more pictures from the book.

I also got Knitting Know-How: An Illustrated Encyclopedia by Belle Meyers. I think it will be helpful for the TKGA Masters Hand Knitting program I'm enrolled in.

So as you can see, I had an incredible time on the Portland Yarn Crawl. I meet some great knitters, got in plenty of knitting time to and from Portland, went to some awesome yarn stores where I bought some great yarn, and even picked up some wonderful used knitting books.

I definitely want to go next year. We are talking about making it a 2 day trip with more yarn store trips and more time to spend at Powell's Books. I may drag Amy down before then though. She could spend all day at Powell's and I could spend time there and in the yarn stores.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Off To Portland Yarn Crawl

Iliauxh is on her way to pick me up. And then we are off to the train station for the Portland Yarn Crawl. A day on the train and going to knitting stores in the Portland Pearl District with a bunch of knitters! Yeah!

Pictures and all the details of the fun to come!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tubular Cast On and Cast Off

TECHKnit to the rescue on learning Tubular Cast On and Tubular Cast Off!

Great illustrations and instructions! I'll definetly be using this for my TKGA Master Knitting Program!

Cast Ons and Seed Stitch

So last night I played around with cast-ons from Knitter's Handbook : A Comprehensive Guide to the Principles and Techniques of Handknitting which came in the mail yesterday. I ordered it for the TKGA Master Knitters Program.

Who know there were so many cast ons?!? This book has more techniques then any of the other knitting reference books I have including Vogue Knitting: The Ultimate Knitting Book. Unfortunately, it is lacking in enough illustration of the cast ons. For most it has one, at best 2 illustrations, for each cast-on. So only one or two of the steps can be seen visually. I gave up on a couple of cast-ons just because I couldn't visualize in my head the un-illustrated steps.

I'm going to look on the web for video of cast-ons and see if that helps.

I also practiced doing seed stitch for swatch #3. I read that you should do this swatch first because the fabric needs to be dense without holes. The needle and yarn you use for this swatch has to be used by 3 other swatches so if you have to change needle size you have to redo those swatches.

As you can see, my practice seed stitch has holes. I'm knitting it on a size 8 needle. I think I'm going down to a 6 next and see how that turns out.

The other thing I learned while practicing the seed stitch is that I had been doing it wrong before. I tried seed stitch early on in my knitting "career" and it was hard to knit the purls and purl the knits. I think I must have had the stitches twisted, because last night it wasn't hard to do that.

Also, I'm practicing purling the conventional way by going over the top rather then in the combined way I've been purling which is to go under. This creates a stitch that has to be knitted through the back stitch when doing stockinette. I don't mind that but sometimes it is hard for me to figure out other stitch patterns because my stitch is laying different on the needles then they are in the illustrations. That may have been my original problem when I was trying to teach myself seed stitch.

I'm not sure I like the yarn I picked out for my swatches, Shepherd 100% Wool. It is kind of fuzzy and I'd like to use a smoother yarn for my final swatches. I may return it and exchange the skeins for another brand. Or I may just keep the yarn for other knitting projects.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

TKGA Master Knitting Program

I got my instructions for the The Knitting Guild of America (TKGA) Master Knitting Program yesterday.

I've been wanting to take the program for awhile now. It is a 3 level program, with each level requiring you to knit swatches, answer questions, do reports, and knit patterns. It looks like a really comprehensive course.

In the first level in which I am enrolled, there are 16 swatches to knit along with 17 questions related to the swatches. Plus there is a two page report on Blocking and the Care of knits that you have to write. And there is one hat project to knit.

There are some great articles geared towards the Masters Program in the TKGA's Cast On magazine that have been archived on the member section of the site. Just reading those, I've already learned a few things like duplicate stitch and increasing in ribbing. Can't wait to try them out!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Amy's Earflap Hat Reduex


Well, I finished Amy's hat for the second time this week. I ripped it all out today and started from the cast on. It fits her much better. I even added the pom-pom. I wasn't sure how she'd feel about that. But when I mentioned it was all I had left to do she said "Cool".
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Friday, January 11, 2008

Airplane Projects

I finished Amy's ear flap hat that I started on the way down to CA while I was there, in the evenings. It was a really quick knit because I had only an hour or two at night to work on it and I still got it all done except the finishing. I had her try it on last night and it is too big. So I'm going to rip back and do it again. I may go all the way to the cast on because I don't like the hole at the top. I know I can close it up with a needle, but I'm thinking of using the same Magic-Cast On I use for toe-up socks.

On the way to the airport in Burbank from Oxnard where I was working, I stopped at two yarn stores. The first one was Stitch Cafe. They had some merino wool yarn with sterling silver in it that I almost bought but at $24 a skein, I decided it was just a little to pricey, especially since I didn't know what I would do with it.

The other store I stopped at was Unwind on Hollywood Way literally 5 minutes from the airport. Stephenie has a nice sized store with lots of great yarns. I just enjoyed walking around the store and looking at everything. I asked Stephanie about an easy one skein project I could knit on the plane. She showed me a couple of scarfs but they would have required me to think more then I had wanted to on the plane.

So she showed me a project called Beech Wood, a neck warmer, that takes two skeins of Manos Silk Blend . She gave me the pattern (which is no longer available on the Ilga Leja site directly but is available, without pictures, on the web archive site here) and a stitch marker.

She also let me use her ball winder. Here it is after it was wound. Stephanie showed me a trick on how to undo the knots/wraps on the Manos skeins so that you don't lose any yarn.

This is a really lovely yarn. The colors are great and I love the sheen that the silk gives the wool. It knits up pretty too.

I started the neckwarmer in the store on size 5 needles and it was way too small. So I traded in those neeedles for a size 8. I think it is a better size but they are 16" length (I meant to get the 24"... but this will be better for hats) and I can't really tell. I may move it onto my Denise needles so I can get a better look at it.

I got about 3/4th through the first repeat which is a 32 row pattern stitch while waiting in the terminal and on the plane.

Now, I've got 5 WIPs (a first for me I think!) and I need to get back to my Mr. Greenjean for my sweater along too!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Earflap Hat For Amy

I started working on an Earflap Hat for Amy on the airplane trip down to California today. She said she wanted a Jayne Hat (for Jayne Cobb on FireFly) but when I showed her the pattern she said she wanted it in blue. Well, what's a Jayne hat if it isn't orange, red, and yellow?

So no Jayne hat for Amy. But I am knitting her an earflap hat instead. This one is from the Fall/Winter 2005 issue of Knit Scene. And it is available for free, as a pdf.

I found the pattern through the niffy pattern feature in Ravelry.

I was going to bring my socks that I'm knitting on the plane but I was worried I wouldn't be able to knit them. It is a little much working two socks on two cables at the same time. I need a little bit more room then an airplane seat can accommodate.

This is knitting up quick so I should have it done by the time I get home and I can surprise Amy. She keeps asking me when I'm going to knit her something every time I cast on something for me. I'm feeling a little guilty. Especially, every time she tells me her ears are cold (hint, hint). :)

Friday, January 04, 2008

Current WIPs

I'm making progress on Mr Greenjeans. At first I was a little worried that I was making it too small and the the armholes would be too tight. But when I tried it on I was hiking it up all the way to my neck. The sweater design is a v-neck and there is still a button band to pick up and knit. So when I take that into account, and try it on the way I'll actually wear it, it fits fine.

Now I am a little worried about the bottom half being wide enough. I did pick the size based on the bust measurement, but my hips are a few inches wider so I think I'm going to increase now that I'm getting past the waist. I'm just not sure I know the best way to increase in the cable and ribbing pattern. Will need to look that up.

Also, I've started a toe-up sock. I used the formula from the Sock-ra-tease by Renaissance Yarns pattern to figure out the number of stitches to cast on and increase to. But I'm not sure I want to do a plain stockinette stitch sock. I may do K2P2 ribbing on the top of the sock for a better fit. I have another pair of socks that I did that way and I like how they fit.

I don't want to make this pair of socks too complicated because I'm going to knit both socks at the same time on two circulars. I'm tired of my socks not being the same size and so I'm hoping that by knitting them at the same time I'll avoid having significantly different tension.

I've finished the first sock's increases and I'm going to cast on the second sock tonight. Then I'll move both socks to the circulars and start knitting them at the same time. I may try the afterthought heel on these too. I haven't been completely satisfied of either version of heel gussets I've knitted on socks so far. Maybe I'll like this version better.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My "New" Art Room and Office

When we moved from Texas I really parred down on my knitting and art/craft supplies. I actually wish I had a picture of all the stuff I had crammed in my art room/office. But luckily an embarrassing picture like that does not exist!

I sold or gave away a lot of what I had especially my paper craft stuff like paper, embellishments, and rubber stamps. I also sold a lot of my craft books.

Since I work at home, I am using the downstairs family room for my office and art room. This is the pitiful state it was in:

And this is my newly "remodeled" room:

Isn't this so much nicer?!? I still need some art for the walls to help spice up the ugly grey walls. I'd also like to get a small card table for the center of the art room side.

The book shelf is from IKEA and I'm using it a room divider too. I debated on getting the 5X5 vs. the 4X4. But since we will be moving in the next year or two and don't know what size room and where the windows on the walls will be, I went with the 4X4.

It now holds all my knitting books and baskets full of yarn. I love looking at it from my desk while I'm working!

Thanks to my brother, Brian, for contributing to my art room fund!