Sunday, April 30, 2006

A Quest for Lace

OK. I have made a decision to try lace knitting. I've gotten a couple of patterns from Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill. Violets by the River Shawl and Lotus Blossom Shawl. And a book, A Gathering of Lace, is on its way. But I want to know what you think is a good beginner's pattern? What yarn choice is appropriate for a first-timer? I'd appreciate any recommendation you can give. Thanks!

Heel Flap Experiment

I did an experiment to find a better way of doing selvage stitches on the heel flaps for easy stitch pick up. I knitted 3 samples. First is the common way. Second is done with a tip from Ted (a.k.a. Knitterguy.) Third is a technique I learned in my first sock class.

1. The common way

The usual way is to slip the first stitch of each row then knit or purl across. Creating selvage stitches that are not aligned horizontally. They are staggered.

2. From Ted's tip

The selvage stitches are worked this way: right side rows, slip 1, work to last stitch, slip last stitch. Wrong side rows, purl across.

For the bottom half of the test sample I slipped the stitches purl-wise. The top half knit-wise. You can see in the photo that top half's selvage stitches are neater.

Working this way creates selvage stitches that are aligned horizontally.

3. Sock class method

Work the heel flaps this way: WS, sl 1 k-wise with yarn in back, then purl across. RS, sl 1 p-wise with yarn in front, then knit across.

You can see in the photo, this method creates little beads on the edge. You insert the needle between the beads when picking up stitches. Easy to see. But these stitches are also staggered. Not aligned horizontally.

What do I like? I would like to combine method 2 and 3. That would make me happy. :-)

Many thanks to Ted for the tips!

Two Days in Pictures

Friday, April 28th

Saturday, April 29th

Moving the Tarot Journey

I've decided to create a separate blog for my Tarot lessons. The daily readings are making the blog's size growing rapidly. So, I think it will be easier to separate it. That will also make it easier for me to follow when I read back on the cards.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Abandoned Heart

This happened before Valentine's Day. It was a class project and I really thought it was going to be THE perfect Valentine's gift! I was so excited and looking forward to see it completed. But things happened. It just wasn't meant to be...

1) I never got the correct chart for the heart. I got pieces of the charts, a big section in the middle was missing. 2) Heart pillow class didn't teach how to make a real pillow. The finished heart has to be sewn to a pillow and I don't know how to sew. 3) I feel that I wasn't taught the correct way to do Intarsia. There are trouble spots. Really ugly spots.

Now what to do? Finish and find a way to make something out of it? Frog it? I didn't even save the yarn labels. I only remember that these are two balls of Merino and one Superwash Wool.

Anyway, we are heading out of here in an hour. We are attending a So. Cal. University orchestra's rehearsal and performance. They are using our products and I was asked to take some photos. Me? I'm no photographer. I hope they turn out OK. It's going to be a long day. We won't be home until 10 pm the earliest! Yikes! And I have to get up by 4 am so I will be ready to leave for the temple at 5 am!

I'm visiting Wat Metta in San Diego county with a friend. The alms-round starts at 8:30 am at the temple so we have to hit the road by 6:30 or so. And that means I have to leave home around 5:00 so I can meet my friend at our temple before 6:30. Phew! I'm very excited. I've never been there before. Hopefully the weather will be nice so I can take some pictures.

Oh! I've been doing Continental knitting! Yay!!! I started a Duulan hat and thought why not get some practice with Continental. That'll make Fair Isle knitting easier, right? So, I just sat there and tried to figure out the best way to do it. It actually got really enjoyable. And man, talk about speedy. I couldn't believe how much I got done. If the hat wasn't a double thick, it would've been done last night. But I still like knitting the English style. I feel more in control that way.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Help Needed!

Elemmaciltur is in a bad situation. Please go over to his blog and see if you have any suggestion. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

LTKA Square Seven

Garter and Rib Pattern
Techniques: k, p, k-b, p-b

Finished this square last night. It required the most stitches by far. 49 x 56. It was a joy to knit. Needed a lot of attention. At first it seemed a little too wide compared to the other squares. But the k-b and p-b stitches pulled the fabric in quite a bit after 4 or 5 rows. Phew!

Notes to myself: 1) Listening to podcasts, especially the funny ones, and learning a new stitch pattern at the same time can spell disaster. 2) Pay attention to a new stitch technique. See every step and every twist and turn. That knowledge will be needed when undoing stitches one by one. 3) Make sure to use the right color for each square! I realized that I used the wrong color for the this square and the last square. ARRGGHHH!!! I will have to remember to change the colors for two of the future squares so that I won't risk running out of any color.

Here's another shot of the square that shows the texture better.

Next square is named Rose Fabric. Two colors will be used. I can't wait. But this needs to be interrupted momentarily so I can finish the feet of the socks before the class next week. I'm a Virgo. Just want to get them done so I won't worry about it. You can see them in the photos. They are never too far away! I also want to do a couple of small experiments that I've been wanting to get to. I will post on them!

Oh! Almost forgot! There's a Knit-Along for Learn to Knit Afghan. Check out this Yahoo Group, Square-A-long.

Monday, April 24, 2006

LTKA Square Six

Twisted and Crossed Ribbing
New techniques: k-b (knit in back loop) and p-b (purl in back loop)

It was nice to take a breather from sock knitting and finish another square for the afghan. We won't be meeting for the last class until 5/5. So I put down the socks, launched iTunes on my Mac, played knitting podcasts and music and knitted up the sixth square.

It wasn't the first time I tried k-b and p-b, but I sure got a lot of practice with this square. Awkward at first, especially p-b. But I eventually found a good angle to insert the needle through the back loop. Knitting this way causes the stitches to be twisted and looking tight.

From bottom up in the photo, the first section of ribbing is called Twisted Ribbing. The next is Crossed Ribbing. Twisted Ribbing looks tight and sharp-edged. The Crossed Ribbing has a rounder look and not as tight. But both are tighter than plain ribbing. Good alternatives.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Last Friday

Several people didn't show for the sock class last Friday. Couple of ladies just didn't show. Annette was taking her husband out to a play. Without her it was a bit quiet. It was also quiet because everybody was either working on picking up stitches or heel turns. Serious stuff. I managed to do only five or six rounds of knitting after picking up stitches. I couldn't believe it. Two hours just went by in a flash.

I had a hard time understanding the sequence of picking up stitches for the gusset. I even missed a few and had to break out the DPN to fix the problem. I think the trouble was that there was very little time to visualize it. I have to understand how things work. I get frustrated if I am only following instructions. But it all came to me while driving home. I had to think in terms of knitting only one sock to see how it flows. Then add another sock in the picture. It's really hard to describe with words. I think I am going to create an illustration. I know others were also having problems understanding it just from verbal instructions. Maybe a picture will help.

I am really enjoying knitting two socks on one circular needle. I'm finding out the best ways to hold the knitting at different points. It is starting to flow smoothly. I'm also excited to learn knitting without a pattern. It's not as scary as I thought! I can also see the possibility of modifying a pattern to knit two on one circ. It shouldn't be that difficult, right? Well, I haven't tried yet. Who knows!

Friday, April 21, 2006

There are Heels and Flaps

I am so ready for the class today!

The heel flaps and turns were done last night. I want to start on picking up stitches right away when I get to class this evening. There is no noticeable change of behavior of the colors on the heels. I guess that's good? But I feel kind of disappointed. I tried different ways of slipping the first stitch on each row of the heel flaps. Looking for the best way to create a neat edge for easy stitch pickup. What I really wanted to do was to recreate what I learned in my first sock class. But darn, I couldn't figure it out until the flaps were almost finished. What I should've done was:

WS, sl 1 k-wise with yarn in back, then purl across. RS, sl 1 p-wise with yarn in front, then knit across.

This creates little bumps (or pearls) on the sides, making it easy to see and pickup sititches. Oh well, next time.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Songkran Festival

(Center of the temple where you could participate in different activities.)

Last Sunday was the Thai, Cambodian, Laotion New Year celebration at our temple. I think the actual dates were 4/13 through 4/15. But here in United States, we usually celebrate holidays on Sundays to make it easy for people to attend. Now, I am not Thai and cannot give you info on how the holiday is celebrated. But I believe that people usually splash water on each other on the streets in Thailand. Here at the temple we couldn't have that. Instead people offered monks blessings by pouring water on their hands.

The day started with the monks going on alms-round. Thai Forest Tradition monks cannot take food that's not offered to them. Following a strict rule given by the Buddha. This way their time won't be spent on thinking about eating and can focus more on meditation. Also this prevents any monk going off into the wild and beomce hermit like. They rely on the community and in return they can offer knowledge they gain from their practice.

After going around and accepting rice from people, the monks went into the dining hall. It's really a multi-purpose building that's called Sala. After the monks took their seats, people passed around more food offerings to them. There can be an overwhelming amount of food on a special day.

After the offerings the monks chanted blessings for everyone. Then the Abbot gave a short sermon while the other monks started on their meals. The monks only eat one meal a day and it has to be done before noon. Again, the reason is so that they spend more time on their meditation practice.

After the sermon the people were free to go about other activities. Many people donated food and set up stalls with enough free food for everyone attending. I found two college students who just happened to come in to observe the religious practice on this day. So I ended up going around with them explaining the activities as best as I could. The pouring of water on monks' hands happened after the meal. Unfortunately I had to leave early and could not participate or take pictures of it.

(People making offerings to the Buddha. Flowers, incense, candles and gold leaves.)

(People enjoying delicious food.)

I got to the temple Saturday afternoon. I wanted to see if I could spend some time meditating. I had been experiencing some agitating feelings. Don't know what they were but it was difficult to be tranquil. It so happened that the nuns and other people wanted to make a major offering to the temple. We eneded up staying at the nun's quarter for almost three hours. Since I couldn't understand what they were saying, I sat meditating. I was surprised that the agitations that I felt througout last week did not cause any trouble at all. But legs didn't like sitting on hard floor that long. LOL

Sunday morning after chanting it was another hour of mediation. It was truly wonderful. My legs didn't give me any trouble. I was able to stay focused. I need to be more disciplined and meditate more at home.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Magic Loop Sock Class

A long overdue update on last Friday's sock class. Once again, it was great fun! Actually, it was a lot more entertaining than the first. Unfortunately one lady dropped out, but two more joined us. Plus another just stayed and knitted with the rest of us.

The table could be divided into two groups. At one end headed by Kathy, our kind and gentle teacher, were the mindful and quiet students. At the other end headed by one of the owners, Annette, were the loud, can't get too much fun, unruly crowd. :-) Well, you couldn't expect anything less than a party when it was also Annette's birthday on Friday! There were cakes, cookies and tea for all. Plus a new sensation in town. Cupcakes! Actually, only one was brought in for the birthday girl. I didn't have a bite. But from the looks on the ladies' faces this little thing called "Red Velvet" was heavenly. I knew where it came from. Sprinkles Cupcakes. I actually went in when they first opened and there were hardly any customers. But I heard that now the wait could get as long as an hour! So on Saturday we took a little walk to the store and this is what we saw!

Anyway, back to the class. We found out it was a no-pattern-class! Guess nobody read the sheet of instructions that we got on the first day. It didn't contain an actual pattern. Great! And I do mean GREAT! It wasn't my desire to knit without a pattern so soon in my knitting adventure. Now that it's done, it's not so bad! Not bad at all! All we had to do is figure out our foot circumference and how many stitches to cast on. That's it! That's all the numbers we needed to figure out. The rest is so easy. Knit the length of the legs, then knit back and forth for the heel flaps. Just knit square shaped flaps, or measure the distance between the bottom of your foot and the bottom of the ankle bone and knit that much (OK, one more measurement.) Turning the heels is so easy too! Just figure out if you want wide or narrow heels and just knit. No math required. I won't go into details of turning the heels. Any sock knitter would know that! One thing to note is to not knit the last row on the first heel turn. Go to the second one and knit until the last row then knit across both heels. Then you are ready to pick up stitches and knit in the round again. That is our next lesson. Sounds really easy but the sequence of what to pick up is still fuzzy to me. The good thing is that no big math involved! Can't wait to get back in class. Oh, since everyone was having problems knitting both socks fast enough, we added another day to the class. Yay! Kathy is so nice. By the way, Kathy is an assistant editor for Spindlicity, and a committee member of Greater Los Angeles Spinning Guild.

After the class I met my partner and our friend Peter for a bite at Raku in West L.A. The owner is a Japanese/Korean lady, so the dishes incorporate both styles of cooking. The scallop sashimi was super sweet and delicious. Cabbage rolls and stewed pork were a must try. Everything was good and most dishes are small and reasonably priced. One caution, if you like monk fish liver, eat it with other raw food. It's a bit too fishy.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Magic Looping

Here it is. The first photo of the Two Socks at Once class project. At first I thought it was taking too long to knit up some length on the socks. But then I realized, a) I'm learning a new technique and still trying out different ways to hold the needles, the yarn ends. b) It took several tries of casting on for me to be satisfied enough to continue knitting. c) I frogged it twice. d) Hey! I am knitting two socks at once! I think it's not too bad and I am getting comfortable with the process. I just have to finish the legs before next class on Friday.

I love this yarn! It is Jawoll Color Superwash by Lang Yarns, color 820080. 45 g a ball plus 5 g of reinforcement yarn. See that little spool of yarn in the photo? It is tucked in the middle of the ball if you ever buy this yarn. There were only two balls of these at A Mano. After a quick search on Google I found only one place that's carrying this. I hope it's not discontinued. I'd like to get some more for other projects!

I found instructions online for knitting two socks at once on one circ. If you are interested, here are the links:

For top-down socks, the instructions is on this PDF. For toe-up socks, here are two links:

Monday, April 10, 2006

The A Mano experience

Last Friday was the "Two Socks at Once" class at A Mano Yarn Center. I showed up early to take some snapshots of the yarn store. Above is the display window. What you can't see is the window seats. A great place to relax and have natural light to do knitting with.

A Mano doesn't have a super large space. But there sure are a lot of yarn! I've never realized this until I looked through the lens of the camera. Wow! No wonder the yarn often pops out and hit you when you walk by.

They have a lot of needles! Some funky ones too. I was going to get a couple of interesting Japanese circular needles made with plastic. The needles and cable are made as one piece. There's even an 8.5" circ for socks and baby hats. I'll try to remember to get them next time.

The large table in the back is where things happen. Classes, S n' B gatherings, lunch, dinner, etc.

Now on to the class. I was jumping up and down when I saw the needles did arrive in time for us. I immediately grabbed one 47" #1 and one 47" #2 Addi Turbo. I decided on a yarn that has all the colors of the rainbow (I wonder why.) Very vibrant. I am going to do another post on the yarn when I get enough length worked on the socks to show you.

Seven people showed up for the class. It was scheduled to start after the store hours. Thank goodness for that! We didn't need distraction that's for sure. It was HARD! Kathy was a very good teacher. She went through every little detail. The way she taught also encouraged us to adjust a pattern to our individual measurements.

The cast-on chosen by Kathy was Twisted German Cast-on. It is stretchier. I soon realized that it was the same as Old Norwegian Cast-on which I learned when I did my second sock. I was glad. It was a difficult technique to learn and took up a lot of time to explain and demonstrate.

Anyway, the class was fun! Only one of us decided to use two circs. Everyone else chose single circ. It was difficult. I mean really really difficult. But it was so fun to be in a class when we teased each other on. When several people are frustrated at the same time, it can be really really funny.

I frogged what I did in the class and started the whole thing over at home. I wanted to take my time to go through every step so that I could understand it completely. I also found instructions on the internet for knitting two socks on one circ. Only two rows finished at this point, but I think I am beginning to like it very much. Just like learning to use the DPNs, this method takes time to get used to. Once you get into the flow, it's quite enjoyable.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Old Hats!

Here are a couple of hats that I knitted before I got into socks. The one on the right is a London Beanie. Pattern found on the web and knitted with Manos del Uruguay. On the left is an Aran Watch Cap. Pattern from the book "Hats On!" by Charlene Schurch, knitted with Plymouth Encore Worsted. Both belong to my partner now. The beanie gets a lot of use, and the green one only gets worn when it's extremely cold. I plan to knit another Aran Watch Cap for myself but with KnitPicks natural color wool yarn, and making the length shorter.

Charlene Schurch teaches a unique tubular cast-on in the book. I think it's designed especially for circular knitting. It requires a crocheted chain and takes a few rows to set up. But the result is very nice!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Is there life out there?

Wanna help search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence? Join SETI@home! I have forgotten all about this cool research at Berkeley until they sent me an email today. This is a project that asks people at home to help process radio telescope data to find indicators of other intelligence out there. There's even a team "SetiKnitters" that you can join. Well, only two members at the moment. So if you do help out, join the team. If you don't want to find E.T., there are other scientific researches that you can help out. Like processing data to find cures for human diseases. You just let your computer help out with the data while you are busy doing something else. Like knitting. :-) Check it out!

Phew! Does this sound like advertisement? LOL I just think this is cool. That's all.


Not much knitting done lately. I didn't start another afghan square. But I intend to later today. I did start knitting Origami. Not much to show. Only about 1.75" on the back yoke. The guage is still a little off. But after knitting for a few rows the measurement doesn't seem to be off that much.

Two Socks at Once class starts tomorrow! Yay! The store is suppose to order the super long 60" Size 1 Addi Turbo for every student (not free.) I hope they get them in time for the class. Nobody wants to use two needles. We don't want dangling needle points! I'm really curious to see how the cast-on is done. That's the part I can't visualize in my mind. Oh, by the way, the Kathy Hinckley that I found on the Internet turned out to be THE Kathy Hinckley that's teaching the knitting classes. She freaked a little bit when I told her all the facts I knew about her. LOL Hey, she put all that info on the web. Not me. :-) She's also a Tarot reader. How nice!

Since I don't have much to show in pictures, I'm leaving you this nice photo of our orchids. They are in bloom!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Felted finally!

If you missed my previous post on this Entrelac Tote, no, I didn't knit this magically. I finished the knitting part in February but never got to felting it. I visited my sister last Saturday and used her washer for the felting. She's got a better machine you know (she sells them.) I trust her machine. LOL This being my first felted project created lots of excitement. All of us couldn't believe what came out of it. During the wash I checked in periodically to make sure it was OK. It was still gigantic when soaking wet. But after the spin cycle it just magically shrank to the right size! (OK, it's not magic.) Phew!

I really like how it turned out. It even looks nice lying flat. I won't be carrying this around on my shoulder though. (Can you imagine that?) This will be my knitting bag for the house. Large enough to put everything needed for everyday knitting.

Pattern: KnitPicks' Felted Entrelac Tote
Yarn: KnitPicks' Wool of the Andes