Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Nimbus 2009

I have officially finished all the pieces to my first ever sweater, Berroco's cropped cardigan, Nimbus! All that awaits is the seaming. Must do some research-- do I seam with the chunky yarn used in the sweater or a lighter yarn to avoid bulky seams?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

FO: Aestlight Shawl

Winter break!!!! Thank goodness. Yesterday I took one last giant exam, and now, I am blissfully embracing winter break. The Nimbus Sweater pattern is cruising out of my printer as I type.

N and I ventured on to the roof on a blustery San Francisco morning to photograph my latest FO.

FO: Starry Nights
Pattern: Aestlight Shawl by Gudrun Johnston
Yarn: Dream in Color Starry in Purple Paisley (same as the Smooshy, with 2% silver woven in for some sparkle.)
Needles: US 6 circs (knit picks options)

One of my knitting goals for 2009 was to complete a lace shawl. I have two true lace shawls in the works, but they will not be completed by the end of the year. While this shawl is not knit with lace yarn, it is a triangular shawl with two lace charts, so I am calling this one a victory.

As soon as I cast on this DIC Starry, a birthday gift from my little sister, I began scouring the web for sales on Starry. As you may remember, I used my Sonny and Shear Stash Bustin coupon to purchase a skein in a deep chocolatey color called Gothic Rose, which I hope to use on the Multnomah Shawl (free pattern available here.) That was a long roundabout way of saying that I loved working with this yarn, and look forward to working with it again. I like how subtle the silver is. The pictures of skeins online make the yarn look quite sparkly, but in person it is much more understated, which I like better.
I really loved the pattern-- giant garter triangle with a couple easy to follow charts at the end. I would certainly knit this again. A classmate requested one, so you may see another one here in the future. The second chart that comprises the triangular border absolutely flew off the needles in a couple sittings. Very satisfying way to close the project!

Gloomy day makes for dark pictures! Hope you are all enjoying lovely weekends.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mad Cowl Disease

I got a fever! And the only cure, is more cowls!

Cowls must be the perfect knitting project. Fast, portable, warm, snazzy. They make a great gift and add the perfect finishing touch to any outfit. Three FO's today- two were birthday presents and one was a random project for myself.

FO: Fair-Isle Cowl
Pattern: improvised
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, "Spring Tickle" and Miss Babs Yummy Superwash Sock, "Sunflower"
Needles: US 2 circ's
Started: 11/17/09, Completed: 11/22/09

This was a birthday present for my good friend Sara. As always, the smooshy was AMAZING and I love the Miss Babs Sunflower colorway. This was good practice in fair-isle. I've been working on keeping the stranding looser so the stitches don't pucker. I think I succeeded!

FO: Checkerboard Cowl
Pattern: improvised
Yarn: Lily Chin Park Avenue Printed
Needles: US 6 circ's
Started: 11/13/09, Completed: 11/16/09

This cowl was a birthday present for another good friend, Savilla. It was pretty easy to make, and the results look great. The pattern, if you care to make it yourself, is simple:

CO 150 sts
Row 1-6: K5, P5 around x6 rounds
Row 7-12: P5, K5 around x6 rounds
Repeat these 12 rows for a total of 5 times or until length desired.
BO following knits and purls, weave in ends.

Last FO: Quick and Dirty
Pattern: Crofter's Cowl by Gudrun Johnston
Yarn: Catalina Yarns Baby Silk
Needles: US 8 circ's
Started and Completed: 09/26/09

I love this cowl. I think I grafted it one stitch off; it doesn't line up EXACTLY, but for me it's close enough. I pair it with a classy wool swing coat or just under a sweatshirt. I may or may not have worn it every day for the past few weeks...

It's the winter of the cowl. Time to cast on for more!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

FO: Liliana's Socks

I uploaded the pictures for this post exactly seven days ago, and have not had a moment since to write the post! Between school, elementary school, holiday prep, and ignoring the dishes, things have been busy around here. Tomorrow I am cooking my first ever Thanksgiving and having 12 people in our wee apartment to celebrate. We have had that many people for dinners before, I am more worried about my ancient oven tackling the 20 lbs turkey.

FO: Liliana's Socks (for my MIL)
Pattern: Burning Rings of Fire, a free pattern by Kristen Kapur
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Sockotta Sock Yarn, purchased from Birds-N-Yarn
Needles: US 2 Knitpicks Options DPNs, my current weapon of choice for socks

I impulse bought this cotton blend while ordering some Lorna's Laces online. I do not know what came over me at the time, because I like neither cotton socks nor self-striping yarn. You know how enticing yarn sales can be, mystery items just appear in your cart. When the yarn arrived, it occurred to me it might actually be perfect for some MIL socks. I had a feeling she would like a cotton blend rather than 100% wool, since she tends not to get cold too easily.

Now that they are all bound off and blocked, I am a bit concerned they will be too small for her. I think I will try and block them again. I made the largest size indicated on the pattern, and knitted a longer heel flap and thus longer gussets, and knit an extra 1.25 inches into the foot of the sock. I will give them another block just in case, and then make N try them on for fit. The MIL's feet are rather on the larger side, which makes for all the more sock to knit!

I cast on these socks mid-August. They have since lived exclusively in my purse, acting as my bus and car knitting. I cast off about two months later, showing that time on the Muni bus need not be wasted. These socks will make their way to my Christmas knitting pile, which is pretty measly, but does include a hat for my Grandmother in law, and will hopefully accumulate a few more hats before Christmas rolls around.

Note to my neighbors: A top sign your neighbor is addicted to yarn is the erratic sticking of feet out of the bedroom window followed by a series of foot contortions, all of which said neighbor is simultaneously photographing with enthusiasm. Do not be alarmed. If you fear for the neighbor's sanity, the best course of action is to drop by with a care basket of chocolate and, um, more yarn.

Monday, November 16, 2009

From Sweden with Love

More fiber goodies to share! As a wedding gift, a friend from Sweden sent us this crochet lace doily.

Now gracing our dresser, the doily lays under my jewelry boxes, and continually reminds me how awesome the fiber arts are! Transcending generations and continents, the traditions perpetuate. How can you not love it?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stash Bustin

More like yarn shopping... Sonny and Shear is a lovely online yarn and fiber retailer that is family owned and stocks the good stuff. They offer a "bust your stash" coupon--send them 2 lbs worth of ball bands, they email you a 10% off coupon. Some incentive to bust that stash! I just cashed in my bust my stash coupon on a skein of Dream in Color Starry in Gothic Rose. Dream in Color yarns are right up there with Malabrigo for me in fabulous factor. Better get knitting, so I can earn more coupons :)

Mosaics by the pool, Hearst Castle

Friday, November 13, 2009


I think its a widely recognized feeling in the fiber arts that part of the magic we feel is a connection to the past. A knowledge that we could make socks if all the sock factories in the world disappeared, just as women (and men!) did in the pre-industrial days. Knowing that the art we practice connects us to thousands of women all over the world, all across time is magical.

As a wedding gift, my aunt made me lace trimmed pillow cases. My grandmother was an avid knitter, a master of everything from the cable to the bobble to fair aisle. Another of her loves was lace trimmed linens, always pressed perfectly, and always in use. Another thing that makes knitting magical for me is using something so beautiful, and making something that is both inherently gorgeous and functional.

My grandmother passed away when I was fourteen, before I grew into a knitter. Knowing my love of knitting, and my Grandmother's, my aunt made me this gift in honor of my grandmother. She made and attached the lace, and wove in a ribbon to match the shirt my husband sported at our wedding.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Notes on sanity

It has been an incredibly busy couple months, semester, year, etc. The last two weeks have been particularly insane at school, with state assessments, standardized tests, arranging student teaching placements, and big projects due left and right. When I get this busy I tend to pull in, be more introspective, and sadly, I stop doing things that keep me sane! So here I am, tests looming, writing on the blog again, looking for my sanity. If you find it, do let me know.

There has been some knitting. Not much knitting, but some. I am almost done with my on-the-bus socks, a gift for my MIL. I am on the second repeat of the second chart on my Aestlight Shawl, in DIC Starry. I must echo the Yarn Harlot's thoughts on the Starry, its lovely, but not quite as silvery as one would hope. Yet, I love it, and want more of it! Kristina recently introduced me to the Dizzy Sheep, which features one yarn for sale per day at bargain basement pricing, and I have since been checking every day, hoping for more Starry.

Knitting is one of those things that keeps me sane, but the time in which to do it evaporates in the face of other tasks. I can see why doctors prescribed knitting as a cure to anxiety to housewives in the old days. As I knit each stitch, I can feel my mind sifting, processing, and clicking things into place. I am always glad when I sneak some time to knit a few rows. Most of my knitting is 6:30 am bus knitting at the moment, and I won't lie-- I have nodded off once or twice!

In good news, Thanksgiving and Christmas are nearly upon us, which for me means vacation and knitting time! In preparation, I ordered some yarn for my first sweater! I bought Valley Yarns on Webs, my first time buying their in-house brand, in a chunky weight, dark blue heather. They were offering a sale for knitting daily subscribers, so I hopped on it. I got enough yarn for a sweater plus a free pattern for 25 bucks. I am planning to knit the sweater featured in the latest Berroco newsletter, Nimbus. Its more of a sweater coat, which comforts me since I won't have to be too worried about a precise, tailored fit.

Some photo documentation of my last few busy months:


Central CA Mini-Honeymoon aka Mini Moon: Hearst Castle

Mini-Moon: Castoro Cellars Vineyard

Mini-Moon: Castoro Cellars Vineyard

Mini-Moon: Sculpture Garden at Clautiere Winery

Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm not dead yet...

(Five points to whoever got the Monty Python reference.)

Although my blog posts have been few and far between (almost none, in fact) I've been doing just as much knitting as ever. I just had to take a time-out from school to post what may have been my most important FO of the year.

FO: Rose's Wedding Shawl
Pattern: Aeolian Shawl by Elizabeth Freeman
Yarn: Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb
Needles: US 4 circ's
Other odds-n-ends: used a crap-load of mauve beads, size 8/0
Started: 08/05/09, Completed 08/20/09 ...technically ends were woven in on 10/03/09.

With only two months of notice, I worked on this night and day so I would be sure to finish in time. It actually only took two weeks of non-stop knitting and beading. I think I lost about fifty beads in my couch.

I am always so surprised and pleased after blocking. I swear, it is black magic.

Finally, here is a picture of the whole thing, with my fiance (!) for scale. (Don't mind the empty bookshelves in the background; we were in the middle of moving.)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

FO: Silk Wool Spiral Cowl

Do the joys of Malabrigo ever cease? I think not. I love the feel of Malabrigo on my needles, and on my skin. Knowing this, my mom bought me some of Malabrigo's Silky Merino for my birthday. It is glorious. Its soft, light and warm, like the worsted merino, but has the most beautiful silky sheen.

FO: Silky Wool Cowl
Pattern: Spiral Cowl by Keri McKiernan of Knitty Gritty Thoughts (free pattern!)
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino
Needles: US 6/ 4.0 MM knit picks options nickel plated fixed circs
Mods: I omitted the button, as the cowl was not loose enough to warrant it. I would make it again, a bit bigger, just so I could use the cute button accent.

This was a fun, easy knit, mostly completed in the car. I ordered the knit picks nickel plated needles for this project and the Aestlight Shawl (by the Shetland Trader) which I am knitting up with Dream in Color Starry. I like the needles-- light weight and fast. I always am a bit slower with circs-- no matter how smooth the join, it slows me down. For me, these were much faster than the bamboo needles they replaced.

A fun, useful knit with fall around the corner. Its time to break out shawls, scarves, and cowls to ward of the morning frost!

Pictures taken at Clautiere Winery, in Paso Robles, CA on my mini-honeymoon :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

FO: The Nantucket Purse

My friend recently sent me a picture of a FO I gifted her in action, and I realized I had never shared it on the blog.

FO: Nantucket Purse
Pattern: DROPS Cable Bag (free pattern!)
Yarn: Peru Naturtex Partners Pakucho Organic Cotton (mine was cheap on
Needles: US 10.5 Bamboo Circulars

I named this purse the Nantucket Purse for my friend Amelia who spends some time every summer in Nantucket. Here she is on her way from Nantucket to Boston, with the purse in action.

I love this pattern and this bag! My friend Jess added the handles and the sewn in lining. I did not like this yarn, it had almost no twist, and was splitty like crazy. I prefer cottons with a strong twist like Rowan cotton rope. The cotton was not fun, but I did love the outcome. Very slouchy and cool.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Night at the Museum

Assumptions. When I was a kid we said assumptions make an a$$ out of you and me.

When I started the Ring of Fire socks, I assumed the pattern was written for 3 DPNs because that is what I use. I cast on as instructed, without thinking much, 34 stitches per needle. I joined, then knit a row, again, not thinking at all. I looked down at a massive beast of a knitted circle. I looked at the directions, confirming I cast on correctly. Yup, 34 on each needle. Yet, I seemed to have a third more stitches than I needed! I reread the pattern again, finally actually reading the beginning instructions. The pattern was written for 2 circulars, not the 3 DPNs I was using. I frogged my giant, 112 stitch sock, and adapted for 3 needles
, scaling back to the more normal 68 stitches :)

I saw King Tut at the De Young last night. It was a lovely exhibit, really well put together. Much improved from the version I saw 5 years ago in LA. The sky was crazy last night, unusual high clouds (we usually only get low fog) made for a dramatic sky behind the modern towers of the De Young.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sock in Progress

Kristina visited San Francisco this past weekend. We had an awesome time scoping out cool places to live in the Bay Area, playing cards excessively, knitting, eating delicious Burmese food and sushi, and walking about.

Kristina slumbers peacefully with a cake of DIC Smooshy Yarn in Pansy Go Lightly
Kristina brought me the most amazing gift ever. She knitted me an amazing wedding shawl, using Knitty's newish Aeolian Shawl in a gorgeous chocolatey brown, and with beads! It is both perfect and totally awesome. She is such an amazing knitter, and friend. I am so grateful to have her :) Thanks, friend.

Some sock in progress shots! The pattern is a freebie, Ring of Fire, by Kristin Kapur. This will be a Christmas gift for N's mom. Her foot is a bit larger than mine (about 4 sizes!) so I lengthened the heel flap quite a bit and am making a longer foot.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

FO: Pomatomus Socks

Cookie A is such a fun designer. I love her wacky, innovative sock patterns, they are so much fun. Pomatomus is no exception.

FO: Sunset Pomatomus
Pattern: Pomatomus, by cookie A. (free pattern!)
Yarn: Knit Picks Bare - Peruvian Highland Wool Fingering Weight hand dyed by Kristina and myself. A fun, but very smelly project ;)
Needles: Knit Picks metal DPNs. I loved working with these. I switched mid-project after snapping a bamboo needle in twain.
I started these socks back in March, and they have served as my go-to project between projects, and often got cast aside for other things. I waited a while between finishing the first sock, and casting on the second. Between this and the needle change, the second sock is a bit snugger than the first, but both fit just fine. I knit a lot more quickly and tightly on the metal needles than on the bamboo.
On the second sock I played around with the number of stitches grafted on the toe. In the above picture, the right sock is knit precisely as the pattern specifies. This makes for a very point sock. I have very block like non-pointy feeties. Only my big toe fits into the toe point, which sort of makes the whole sock twist a bit on my foot. So, on the second sock, I decreased less on the toe, and grafted more stitches. The sock is much comfier in the toe area as a result. In the picture above, my left foot is closer to the camera than the right, its not actually noticeably more giant than the right in person.

I had fun knitting this pattern. I think I would do it again, in a sock weight yarn. The fingering weight is enough smaller that the scales (which look like fans to me) have less pop and 3d texture than the ones I have seen on ravelry knit in sock weight yarn. I like using fingering weight because it produces a tighter, less slouchy sock, and slouchy socks are a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I might try the adaptation of this pattern to fingerless gloves, because I love the definition of the twisted rib in the sock weight yarn. In fact.... I have some new Dream in Color Starry that would be perfect for it.

Have a happy weekend!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to begin....

Three incredible weeks in the Dominican Republic...I haven't blogged about it because I have not quite figured out how to sum it all up in a blog post! In lieu of, here is a short reflection piece I wrote, and some more pictures, of course!

As the airplane soared through the darkness towards Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, I wondered where the city was, where the lights were. Though I had signed up for the volunteer trip and read about the Dominican Republic for months, my sixteen year-old self had no conception of the all-encompassing nature of poverty; the city was below, but the electricity was out for the night. Later, as our bus hurtled through hazy dawn in the countryside, my eyes drank in every detail, every mango stand, every machete-wielding sugar cane worker, and every stray dog. I returned the next year, to repeat the experience, and in 2009 I returned a third time, as an adult chaperone on the same trip for high school students. These trips changed my worldview, shaped my values, and gave me a new perspective of the world, and my role in it.

For the first time, I stepped out of middle class America and into poverty, with the goal of building houses and helping rural people. I gave up the comforts of home: showers, plumbing, air conditioning, cars, a house full of gadgets, and days packed with activities and obligations. I stayed with a local family, ate what they ate, bathed in the local swimming hole, abandoned my reliance on cell phone and internet access, and adopted a slower pace of life. The family I stayed with and friends I made in the Dominican Republic taught me more and gave me more than I could have ever hoped to give to the people I had come to help. My family and friends in the Dominican Republic are poor by American standards—spotty electricity, occasional running water, no cars, and few material possessions. Yet, they give with open hearts. They give time and energy: a helping hand, a cup of coffee, an able body to help a neighbor dig a hole, or a couple hours playing cards with the grandmother next door.

In the town of La Desucbierta, you cannot stop by someone’s house without drinking a coffee or lemonade, being offered a banana or mango, or even being served a full meal. As I opened up to the Dominican way of life, I felt my heart and my mind expanding and growing as I adapted. When given an invitation to do something new or go somewhere, I replied “yes” instead of responding with the usual barrage of detail-oriented questions Americans ask. I extended my hand, hugging an elderly woman in the mountains of Haiti with an infection in her leg, speaking with my heart when I lacked the words to communicate. I abandoned American fear of making mistakes, and learned to dance the Bachata with the family who owned the local corner store. By adapting to the conditions and customs in the Dominican Republic, I opened myself up to an enriching cross-cultural exchange that has contributed to my development as a person, and certainly fueled my desire to continue to work to change lives.

Renovated house, featuring windows, doors, and floors!

Me and David, a child from an orphanage in Neyba. We did arts and crafts with the kids from the orphanage. It was so amazing to see....they definitely do not get to play with markers and construction paper all too often. Excuse the taken by a 6 year old!

Signing our lovely latrine. After the cement dries, a corrugated metal house-like structure goes on top.

Adorable kids at a swimming hole near Los Rios.

Wendi, a third generation servant who received a scholarship to attend university, studying by generator lamp-light. No computers, all paper! She is studying to be an elementary school teacher.